THE proposed development of homes at Saltwells Nature Reserve has been refused.

The Dudley Council planning authority has today published it's refusal of the scheme, which would have seen the development of nine four and five bedroom homes in the middle of the beauty spot.

The refusal document states that the proposal, made by Birmingham-based KB Extruders, did not constitute sustainable development and would have a 'significantly detrimental impact upon the surrounding Local Nature Reserve' by harming biodiversity and 'the loss and deterioration of irreplaceable habitats'.

The proposal, which the report describes as a 'large, dominant and incongruous development', was also refused as 'no information has been submitted to demonstrate that there would not be any detrimental ecological impact to the site and surrounding area and in particular impact on protected species.'

The development was also panned as 'it would result in the unacceptable loss and deterioration of Ancient Woodland, and the application has failed to demonstrate any compensation or exceptional circumstances to outweigh this harm'.

The report concludes that 'after careful balanced consideration' the planning officers decided there were 'insurmountable technical issues' related to the proposed development.

Campaigners who have fought against the proposals were overjoyed with the announcement.

Lesley Dunn from the Save the Saltwells Nature Reserve Group wrote on Facebook: "Saltwells forever!"

Councillor Keiran Casey, cabinet member for regeneration said: "A decision has now been made on the application submitted for development of the site of the former Saltwells House building, which has been refused by the council.

"When the original application was submitted the council had to follow the process and assess the planning application on its own merits and as with all applications, but in particular with this given the location of the development, we wanted to ensure that all the concerns raised by local residents were seriously taken in to consideration before a decision was made.

“We have listened to the concerns of local people, assessed the application against a range of criteria and have taken the decision to reject this on a number of grounds.

“The overarching concerns were about the impact of such a development on the ecology and biodiversity of Saltwells Nature Reserve, the impact of a development on important habitats, protected species and ancient woodland as well as the dominance such a large development would have on this scenic setting.  We also felt that the development would negatively impact the historic integrity of the site and its role as an important heritage asset."

He added: "We are very grateful to local people for taking the time to share their concerns and engage in this process, and I think one of the main things that stands out for me as a result of this campaign is the great way in which the community and local councillors have worked together to raise this issue, showing just how much local people value the open spaces that we have in the borough and are now actually looking at what more can be done to enhance the Nature Reserve at Saltwells."