A PLAN for 20 new homes in Halesowen has come under fire with police saying it could increase burglaries and campaigners saying it would spoil countryside views.

The development lodged by Mr W. Jones for land north of Oldnall Road would see 20 homes built on the site of a former garden centre and deer park.

The developer says the land has previously been built on and therefore is up for grabs in terms of development.

But, Halesowen Abbey Trust along with a local resident say “our precious greenbelt should be protected”.

Roy Burgess Chairman of Halesowen Abbey Trust said: “The proposal falls within the Halesowen Abbey Trusts’ Area of Benefit.

"The development of the site will have an adverse effect on a footpath which is on the boundary of a former deer park.

“The public’s enjoyment from distant and close views from the farmland to the west, and woodlands to the north, will be severely impacted and spoilt by this proposal.

“The proposed site is totally covered in regenerating woodland and contains several mature trees.

"Removal of this woodland will be a severe loss to the rural setting and visual appearance of the general area.

"There will also be a detrimental effect to wildlife.”

The news of this development comes off the back of Dudley Council voting down plans to develop five greenbelt spaces as part of the controversial Black Country Development Plan. In the initial draft version of the plan which was signed off last year, 7,700 homes were planned for the region’s green belt.

A statement from the planning document said “The applicant considers that there are several mitigating factors that suggest exceptional circumstances exist at the site as follows: There are building remains on the site, the site has previously been developed and the proposals would result in substantial improvements in the design and quality of buildings at the site.”

But, a local resident objected saying: “The land in question is designated greenbelt and with the lack of nature conservation in Dudley Borough, this land should remain part of our precious greenbelt and free from encroachment.”

West Midlands Police have also pointed out that developments which back onto greenbelt can open up properties to crime and disorder.

An officer from the Crime Reduction Unit said: “I have concerns about the layout and design of this application, Plots 11 to 20 back onto a Public Right of Way which is greenbelt land.

“Research studying the distribution of burglaries in terraced housing with open rear access footpaths has shown that up to 85% of entries occurred at the back of the house.

"Being as this is a Public Right of Way this path cannot be gated to restrict access.

“Another issue is that as its greenbelt land there is no natural surveillance for the rear of those properties, so these plots will be extremely vulnerable to burglaries.

“I visited the site on the 21st of July 2022 and found that the public footpath and the track are used and signs of anti-social behaviour were visible (lots of beer tins and bottles) along the public footpath and the track so once built you will still have back gardens vulnerable to anti-social behaviour."

It has still not been decided when this proposal will be put before Dudley Council Planning Committee.