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Andy Street's First Green Belt Test

Prime Minister Theresa May with West Midlands Metro Mayor Andy Street

Dudley council has caved in to pressure from Metro Mayor Andy Street and a coalition of campaigners to suspend consultation on a massive green belt building plan.

Consultation on the plans for 24,600 new homes and 720 acres of commercial land — all of it green belt — were to have been part of the Black Country Core Strategy, according to the Halesowen Reporter.

The Core Strategy will cover the areas of Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council, Sandwell, Walsall and the city of Wolverhampton; the majority of the West Midlands area which elected Andy Street as its first Conservative Metro mayor in May.

The dispute is the first big test of Street's regeneration policy as it comes up against concerned residents on the one hand and the planning powers of local councils on the other.

Street has no spatial planning power — unlike Manchester Metro Mayor Andy Burnham — and Midlands property sources have identified this as a significant potential weakness.

In December Street called for local councils to back away from their green belt plans, saying it was "beautiful green space."

Research for the Black Country Core Strategy suggests allocating around 720 acres of additional employment land for commercial use, plus land for up to 24,600 extra new houses in the years to 2036, all of which will have to be built on green belt land.

Green belt sites in dispute around Halesowen could amount to 180 acres for commercial development and land for up to 6,000 homes.

The current Core Strategy includes around 720 acres of commercial land now allocated for housing.

Cllr Patrick Harley, leader of Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council, said the council's cabinet would be taking "a thorough look" before they agree to further green belt assessments.

Related Topics: Andy Street