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Background and Reasons for Campaign

Following the developers Wrekin Construction going into administration the land went to auction for a guide price of £10k. A number of estate residents expressed a desire to do a communal purchase. They were advised against this being told they would be liable and responsible for the maintenance of the roads and the green spaces.

The following is what happened before the sale of the land at auction when the residents became aware of it

  • There was a well attended meeting at the Oakfield Community Centre for estate residents

  • Residents were assured all the green space and woodland would be safe from development as a guide price of £10k would suggest the land wasn't intended for building as if it was it would be worth hundreds of thousands or at least a million pounds

  • A flier was distributed to all estate residents confirming the land would be safe

  • A petition was signed by a large number of residents and attached to the auction pack

  • A Tree Preservation Order was applied to all the trees on the land as further reassurance that the land was safe from development.

***The Auction took place and the land including the roads sold to the current owner, Mr Kishore Balu, director of Masterfreight in Oldbury, for just £16k***

Since then, the following has happened...

  • The open green spaces became overgrown and the council had to start maintaining them and cutting the grass and have also cut back the trees making the footpath along Brettell Lane difficult to walk along. All of this should have been the landowners responsibility

  • The roads fell into a state of disrepair as they weren't adopted when the estate was built, leading to large potholes causing damage to residents' vehicles.

  • The trees along Brettell Lane have started to damage walls next to the garages on Brettell Lane

  • The council adopted the roads at no expense to the landowner after many years of delay trying to get them from the landowner

  • Four planning applications have been submitted to the council since 2017 by the land owner for 1 house at the end of Silvester Way and 4 (later 3) houses at the end of Culverhouse Drive

  • Due to recognised land stability issues, heavy and very noisy drilling machinery was onsite on two occasions since 2017 as below:

A number of small protected saplings were damaged by this investigatory drilling work as well as fences to the rear of properties in Perrott Gardens being rammed by the machinery. There was no advance warning of this work taking place and when the landowner and drilling company were warned about the trees being protected they claimed to have no knowledge of the TPO which was included in all the documents associated with the land purchase.

  • The single house was refused and after 2 applications were withdrawn the 3rd one in 2021 for 3 detached houses went to the council planning committee with recommendation that it be approved but refused by a good case by councillors and residents to the committee. The landowner or his representative didn't attend and has not consulted the residents at all about his development plans and ignores any attempts by residents to contact him.

  • The landowner has threatened to block access to the green spaces with barriers and fencing despite them having been enjoyed over 20 years by residents and left for the residents by the developers.

  • The area of land planted as Black Country Urban Forest on the East side of the estate between Perrott Gardens and the canal was recognised in 2022 for its ecological value and became a SLINC to protect the wildlife.

So what are the risks and reason for the campaign?

  • A TPO and SLINC designation do not provide statutory protection against development.

  • Loss of the footpath going over the hill through the woods from Culverhouse Drive and the popular public bench (as seen in the photo above). Both well used for over 20 years.

  • Loss of access to green spaces in the estate at the end of Culverhouse Drive and potentially the middle area

  • If an application succeeds anywhere then that can set a precedent for the landowner to build anywhere on the green space and woodland if it gets agreed

  • The council has a brownfield first policy for development. This land was incorrectly classed as previously developed (brownfield) yet no buildings have existed on any of the current green space or woodland since the mining ended. This can be seen in historic aerial photos on the Dudley Council Historic Maps. Parts of the land were used as builder storage yards with only portacabins and materials whilst the estate was being built and that was it. Below is the Dudley Council statement on what is considered to be brownfield land in accordance with the National Planning Policy Framework and can be found here:

  • Further noisy and harmful investigatory drilling can be done anywhere on any of the green space to test land stability in an established estate with a history of houses subsiding. There is no requirement to notify residents in advance of this drilling and it can be right up against fences and property boundaries.

  • Building right over an opencast highwall - a mining feature where the edge of the mined ground was which led to houses subsiding and being demolished before

  • Loss of wildlife habitat including impact to badgers, bats and owls amongst many different species including some known to be in decline

  • Loss of a parking area frequently used at the end of Culverhouse Drive

  • Cars owned by Nissan garage employees having to relocate to other areas of the estate and causing parking issues

  • More cars being parked on the bend at the end of Culverhouse Drive

  • Many months of noisy building work and heavy construction vehicles going in and out of the estate

  • The woodland planting was done under a nationally recognised scheme and as the trees have been established for over 20 years should be protected. It seems pointless there being planting schemes by the council for new trees if they're allowing people to cut down ones planted under a previous scheme

  • It is known that the area has a deficit in green space which will become a greater concern as more houses are built and with increased urbanisation

  • The trees provide stability for the land, are important for drainage reducing the risk of flooding and help clean the air with Brettell Lane becoming more and more busy.

Only one person will benefit from all this - the already wealthy landowner in line to make hundreds and thousands of pounds with no care at all for how it impacts the local community here...

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