TIME is running out for people to have their say as campaigners bid to stop Halesowen’s historic countryside from being used for new housing or business developments.

New homes and businesses, transport and green spaces all form part of the Black Country Core Strategy, which is being reviewed to plan regeneration up to 2036, but the proposals could see green belt land being built on.

Halesowen Abbey Trust secretary Mick Freer has been protesting as part of the ‘Save Halesowen’s Countryside’ campaign since the core strategy’s public consultation began in July and now there is now just three days left for people to express their views.

The core strategy revealed nearly 80,000 new homes need to be built across the region in the next 20 years to cope with increases in population, while leader of Dudley Council, Councillor Patrick Harley, said the idea of building on green belt land will come under discussion.

However, Cllr Harley stressed it would be seen as a “last resort”.

Almost 1,300 people have become members of the campaign’s Facebook page, and Mr Freer is urging people who want to protect the region’s green belt land to get their letters of objections in to the council before the consultation ends on Friday (September 8).

To take part in the consultation visit blackcountrycorestrategy.dudley.gov.uk.

He said: “I’m absolutely overwhelmed by the support the campaign has had. It’s an astonishing amount of people who are objecting to any plans to use our historic green belt land for developments.

“But it is vitally important that people have their say on the consultation and continue to send in their letters of objection to the council.”

Similar protests were made in 2015 when the green belt land off junction three of the M5, which includes Halesowen Abbey and Lapal House, was earmarked for a 260-acre enterprise zone.

Protests have once again been backed by politicians and councillors from across parties, with the town’s Conservative MP James Morris and the Halesowen Labour group demanding assurances from the council.

Labour councillors Ian Cooper and Hilary Bills said they have been told by council officers that there are no current development plans at the junction three area.

Cllr Cooper said: “Following our meeting, Dudley Council officers were left in no doubt by us that this area must remain green belt in the new Black Country Core Strategy.”

While Cllr Bills added: “We urge as many people as possible to take part in this consultation to record their opposition to development on any greenbelt, whether it is junction three, Lutley Gutter or Coombes Wood Green Wedge.

“We are 100 per cent behind you in our desire to see this through.”

As well as space for new homes, the equivalent of about 400 rugby pitches worth of land needs to be found for new industry and business.

Cllr Harley said: “I would urge everyone to take a few minutes out of their day to have their say on the big issues. This will affect the way we think today and how we plan the best future for the Black Country.

“The document will not only shape how we continue to protect and improve the local environment but will also set out plans on how people will get around and how we manage increasing demands for growth in housing and the economy.”