CONCERNED residents in Gornal have vowed to fight to protect the green belt on their doorstep, as neighbouring South Staffordshire looks at potential areas to build hundreds of new houses.

Fears were raised after residents discovered vision documents have been put forward by developers for potentially hundreds of homes on the western edge of Gornal on green belt land.

The proposals, none of which are at a planning stage, have been made as part of neighbouring South Staffordshire District Council’s review to see how the district can meet its housing needs up to 2037.

Green belt sites that border the Black Country are being put forward as potential sites by developers- but would require a downgrading from their green belt status before any firm plans for development could be made.

Proposals include 400 homes on land to the north of Himley Road on the western edge of Gornal.

The proposals, put forward by Wienerberger Ltd, cover 18 hectares, split between 11 in South Staffordshire and seven in the Dudley borough.

The planning documents state that the development will ‘round off’ Gornal, rather than merging it with neighbouring Himley.

Residents have vowed to protect the green belt, with 50 people attending a meeting on the Straits on November 12, while a Facebook group calling for the green belt to be protected has attracted over 900 members.

Councillor Bryn Challenor, who attended the meeting, said: "People are concerned about it but we are reassuring them that if we campaign we can keep it green belt."

He said the main worries were the impact of pollution, greater pressure to facilities and added risk of car accidents on Himley Road.

Fellow Gornal councillor Anne Millward stressed the review is a speculative exercise as part of a process which every local authority needs to take.

But she called on worried residents to focus their efforts on ensuring the land remains designated as a green belt area.

Cllr Millward said: "Once the green belt is undesignated, anything can happen. If people want to stop it, they have to stop the land being taken out of the green belt area."

Residents have until December 12 to voice their objections to the downgrading of current green belt sites to South Staffordshire District Council in writing, by letter or email.

South Staffordshire Council meanwhile has stressed that no sites have been selected and no planning applications have been made for land off Himley Road.

A spokesperson from South Staffordshire Council said: “The Council is currently reviewing its Local Plan and is consulting on broad locations for housing growth. However, this consultation is not site specific; sites will come later in the process and we will consult on sites through our Preferred Options in summer 2020.

“We have received a site suggestion from DBA Estates on behalf of Weinerberger for land north of Himley Road. This has been recorded in our Strategic Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment, or SHELAA, which contains around 600 site suggestions. However, not every site suggested to us will be suitable and being included in the SHELAA is not a green light for development.

“To be clear, at this stage no sites have been selected for the Council’s new Local Plan and there is no planning application for large scale housing development at land off Himley Road.”