Planning for the future of wildlife in the Black Country

The number of new homes planned in the Black Country presents a real threat to wildlife and wild places - we're planning to avoid this.

In the next 20 years the urban area of the Black Country is due to expand at a rate not seen since the middle of the 20th century. Studies commissioned by the Black Country local planning authorities have concluded that in the period up to 2038 new land must be found for up to 71,459 homes, whilst an area of 870 hectares will also be required for employment land. Due to be adopted in 2023, the Black Country Plan will allocate the land needed to meet these targets. 

What is the Black Country Plan?

The Black Country Plan is being jointly produced by the four Black Country councils (Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton) and will allocate land for housing and employment up to 2038. 2038 is so large that it cannot be found in the existing urban area, and that these exceptional circumstances have now been met.

As part of the process a ‘call for sites’ exercise opened in July 2017 and closed in June 2019. The councils requested submissions from anyone who wanted their sites to be considered for development as part of the Black Country Plan. 

Details of all the sites that have been put forward for consideration.

An Ecological Evaluation of the Black Country Green Belt

The Wildlife Trust and EcoRecord (the Environmental Records Centre for Birmingham and the Black Country) were commissioned by the Black Country local authorities to undertake an Ecological Evaluation of the Black Country Green Belt. This comprehensive study analysed a wide range of datasets and assigned a relative ecological value from 1 (low) to 5 (very high) to individual parcels of land (landscape units). Datasets used in the analysis included land use, habitat features, existing nature conservation designations and position in the landscape.

A review of the Green Belt is also underway as part of the Black Country Plan process. All parts of the Green Belt, as well as that in surrounding rural areas such as South Staffordshire, is being considered for new development. 

BCP Map

The map above depicts an area of the Dudley green belt to the south of Halesowen. This shows that most of this area is of very high or high ecological value and that any new development in this area would therefore be seriously damaging to wildlife.

Also shown on the map are ‘promote sites’. These are areas of land that have been put forward as potential development sites through the call for sites process.

Many local communities are deeply concerned that landowners and developers have proposed that parts of the countryside near where they live should be where some of these new homes are built. Passionate individuals have come together, formed groups and are running campaigns to fight to protect these precious local spaces. These are often the places that support some of our best wildlife sites and which give people the opportunity to engage with nature in their everyday lives. 

BCP What we'd like to see

Evidence the Wildlife Trust has provided to inform the Black Country Plan process

The Wildlife Trust have provided evidence to the planning authorities that shows just how damaging badly planned developments in the wrong place will be. This, along with other evidence such as the Black Country Green Belt Study and Historic Landscape Characterisation Study, are powerful tools that can be used by everybody to have their say and influence what the future Black Country will be like for wildlife and people. 

If you or a group you represent would like our support protecting your local wildlife please email us at planning@bbcwildlife.org.uk

Have your say

Information on the process of producing the Black Country Plan (including the evidence published to date) is available online. This states that the local planning authorities aim to have a public consultation on the Draft Plan in Autumn 2020, giving members of the public the opportunity to comment on both the Draft Plan, proposed land allocations and the evidence base. We will let all our supporters know when the consultation goes live through our website, magazine, e-newsletter and social media. We will share our own response before the consultation period ends.