Draft Black Country Plan

Tagged with: Casework status: Open Casework type: Construction Casework type: Plans Habitats: Grassland Reserve: Sandwell Valley Site designations: Site of Community Importance
Sandwell Valley RSPB reserve, panorama from visitor centre

Overview

The Black Country authorities of Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall & Wolverhampton are consulting on a new draft plan. The draft plan sets out where new development will be located, alongside investment for new infrastructure. The draft plan proposes to allocate a 50-house development neighbouring a residential area in Sandwell Valley, at the entrance to RSPB Sandwell Valley nature reserve. The reserve is home to a number of rare and threatened species, including breeding lapwing and little ringed plovers, and overwintering birds such as snipe, jack snipe, and warblers.

Nature rich green space is woefully limited in the area, and we need to protect that which we still have. These species rely heavily on this oasis, and many of the local residents enjoy the tranquil tree lined entrance to the valley. A development would put this at risk, increasing noise disturbance, recreational disturbance, and changing the overall ambience of the area.

Map

How you can help

The consultation on the draft Black Country Plan has now closed. You can view the consultation documents here Black Country Plan (dudley.gov.uk). We will be keeping an eye on developments, and update this page once we have more updates.

Lapwing Vanellus vanellus, standing in shallow water, Geltsdale RSPB reserve, Cumbria

Why is it worth fighting for?

  • Sandwell Valley RSPB nature reserve is a haven for populations of breeding and wintering birds and other protected species that are vulnerable to pressures arising from increasing urbanisation of the surrounding area, including cat predation and increased recreational pressures.
  • The nature reserve is also very important to the local community. The reserve and surrounding green space are currently a ‘peaceful’ haven in a busy residential area where green space is limited.
  • The proposed allocation site itself supports locally important invertebrate populations including marbled white butterflies and common carder bees. These species will be impacted in the area if the development goes ahead.
  • The site proposed for the new housing also forms part of a beautiful tree-lined entrance into Sandwell Valley which is valued by the local community for its visual appeal. 
Sandwell Valley RSPB nature reserve, West Midlands

Our position

Sites such as the RSPB’s Sandwell Valley nature reserve provide an important role for people and wildlife in otherwise busy, built-up areas, and must be protected from the effects of encroaching urbanisation.

We are urging the Black Country authorities to identify less sensitive sites for the new housing to go. However, if the authorities can show that the new housing really cannot be delivered elsewhere then we have advised that a wide buffer, setting housing well back from the nature reserve’s green entrance would help to reduce the most acute impacts – in particular the risk of predation and disturbance of nesting birds by domestic cats.

In addition, we have recommended that an area of semi-natural, accessible greenspace is created within the site (or an adjacent site) in order to absorb much of the day-to-day recreational needs of the new residents (in particular dog-walking) and prevent unsustainable and potentially damaging recreational pressure on the RSPB nature reserve.

We hope that the authorities will find less damaging sites for the new housing and instead work with the local community to consider other potential uses of the Tanhouse Avenue site that retain its current wildlife and amenity benefits.

Timeline

  • 11 October 2021
    Public consultation closes
  • 16 August 2021
    Public consulation opens

Further reading