LABOUR’S shadow housing secretary has paid a visit to Rowley Regis to hear about plans for new sheltered housing units to be built on open green space.

John Healey MP met with Sandwell councillors Kerrie Carmichael and Ann Shackleton, as well as the party’s Halesowen and Rowley Regis parliamentary candidate Ian Cooper, to go over the proposals for 90 new units in Moor Lane.

The plans have been drawn up by Sandwell Housing and Social Care to provide much-needed housing for adults over the age of 55, who need extra care and can no longer cope with living at home.

However, the plans have been criticised by Halesowen and Rowley Regis MP James Morris, who said although local residents welcome additional care facilities, there are objections to the units being built on green space – rather than brownfield sites.

But Blackheath cllr Carmichael, cabinet member for housing, said brownfield sites in the area have been used for housing and a council review concluded there was not enough brownfield land owned by the authority locally to build on.

She said: “There is a real need in Rowley Regis for this type of home, specially adapted and non-adapted properties that will be built on approximately 25 per cent of the open space on Moor Lane.

“There isn’t enough brownfield land in the area which the council owns to build a facility that will benefit vulnerable members of community.”

Mr Cooper added: “Thanks to the government’s failure to build enough homes and look after our elderly and vulnerable we have a full-blown housing crisis.

“Our own mums and dads – or nans and grandads – are often struggling to get around homes that are no longer suitable for their needs and it’s good to see a Labour council meeting these needs at long last.”

After a visit to the site, Mr Healey joined Cllrs Carmichael and Shackleton, Mr Cooper and Labour Party activists in a visit to nearby residents to “explain the plans and dispel negative rumours” circulating around the proposals.

Cllr Shackleton, cabinet member for adult social care, said: “This type of scheme has proved very successful in other parts of Sandwell and improved the quality of life and care for some of our most vulnerable residents.

“I was happy to address people’s concerns and residents were happy to see much-needed homes for our elderly and vulnerable being built locally at last.

“It will also bring jobs into the area.”

Following Mr Healey’s visit, Mr Morris tweeted: “I am amazed that the Labour candidate for HARR [Mr Cooper] is taking such a view on this.

“No one objects to additional care facilities, but Sandwell has considerable brownfield sites for development.

“There is a theme of building on green space in Sandwell and it’s not good for communities.”

Mr Morris recently held a survey into the proposals and from the 240 responses he received, he said 93 per cent of local residents were against the plans.

He added: “Over the last few weeks, along with local campaigners Bob Dunn and Satpal Singh, I have been running a survey on Moor Lane following proposals to build on the green open space.

“Local residents welcomed additional care facilities, but Sandwell has considerable brownfield sites for development and want to see these sites prioritised first for regeneration.

“We’ll be feeding these survey results into the planning department when a formal application has been submitted.

“Thank you everyone who took part.”