A battle to save green belt land on the edge of Kidderminster’s Spennells estate from development is being backed by West Midlands MEP James Carver.
Proposals to plough up productive barley fields off Stanklyn Lane for housing have been met with horror by residents who use the fields for recreation and whose homes overlook them.
An action group, Spennells Against Further Expansion (SAFE), has been set up to campaign against the removal of the land’s green belt protected status as part of the Local Plan Review, drawn up by Wyre Forest District Council.
Mr Carver, whose office is in Lisle Avenue, questioned the motive behind the proposal, which he said, “appears to be a cynical attempt by the council to resurrect the Kidderminster Eastern Bypass which was rejected by the government in 1978 and again in 2004”.
He continued: “There is no way the existing road network could cope with the volume of traffic created by almost doubling the size of the existing Spennells estate. The council seems to be running a bet that the government will agree to fund a bypass in order that Wyre Forest can satisfy its alleged housing need.
“If it doesn’t agree, the housing could not be built, yet the land would have lost its green belt protection, leaving its future use uncertain and blighting house prices in the area.”
Mr Carver is also angry that the council’s only alternative – and less favoured – option in the review includes significant development in Areley Kings, which he said, “would cause uproar in another sensitive location” and major congestion through Stourport.
He added: “We are partway through a huge house building development on the former British Sugar site at Silverwoods and the council’s published numbers in the review are unclear.
“The district’s Core Strategy 2006-2026 stated 4,000 additional dwellings were needed during that period, and now the council says it needs 5,400 to be built by 2034. We are owed a better explanation.”
Mr Carver has accused the council of “going back on its word” as the Core Strategy – which the Local Plan will supersede – states the desire to prevent migration to shire towns and rural areas from the Birmingham and Black Country conurbation.
“Just a few years later and immigration from these areas is actively being encouraged, with the carrot of around 40 hectares of employment sites included in both options up for consultation,” he said, adding:
“However, the Worcestershire Local Transport Plan 2017-2030 – which makes no reference to the Eastern bypass – reveals 46 per cent of residents currently work outside the locality, and I fear a bypass and huge swathes of new housing right along Kidderminster’s east and south-east flank will turn the town into even more of a commuter town than it is now.
“It will mean more traffic on the roads, the carving up of more countryside for the bypass and will create more air pollution.”
Core housing sites, including the field at the rear of Baldwin Road, adjacent to the A456 and the opposite side of the dual track running along the eastern boundary of the Offmore estate are included in both options, along with development at the former Lea Castle Hospital.