Significant parts of my constituency, and many of our local communities, such as Streetly, are defined by Green Belt and precious green open spaces. Sadly, they are increasingly coming under threat.

Residents in Streetly were recently alerted to a development proposal called Columba Park that has outlined the potential for 1,500 new homes on land on Queslett Road East, adjacent to Aldridge Road. This is being conceived as part of The Black Country Core Strategy that is preparing Walsall’s housing requirements up until 2036.

Whilst at this stage there is no planning application, it does raise the need for us to start to mobilise ourselves towards defending our precious Green Belt and open spaces when needed. With this in mind I want to see the Black Country Core Strategy changed and I am going to need your help to achieve that change. For me the Green Belt is not a nostalgic vision of an old England of bygone years. Today’s Green Belt keeps inappropriate development at bay. It defines the identity of our local communities and in Streetly’s case it stops us being subsumed into a Greater Birmingham.

Whilst I freely accept more housing is needed, it seems to me that in the rush to provide more homes, a core function of the planning system is being lost – the ability to provide the right homes in the right places for people who need them. This is why, alongside Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, I have always advocated a brownfield first approach to development.

So, this summer I will be contacting residents and campaigning across Streetly and my wider Aldridge-Brownhills constituency to ensure that you know about the Black Country Core Strategy. I will be encouraging constituents to make their views known that we will not countenance development on our Green Belt. The Green Belt is non-negotiable.

Together, we must make a stand for future generations and seek a different approach by insisting The Black Country Core Strategy switches its emphasis to developing brownfield sites first and not developing our precious green and open spaces.

Local residents have also contacted me with their concerns about Birmingham City Council’s proposal to take down Perry Barr fly-over.

The Council are proposing to remove the A34 Perry Barr fly-over, putting all traffic on to a dual carriageway at ground level. This will have a huge impact on many residents in Streetly and beyond.

I do not believe the basis for the decision to remove the Perry Barr fly-over is a sound one. Indeed Birmingham City Council’s own technical report highlights that the proposal to remove the fly-over would actually make traffic flow worse, not to mention the increased disruption it is going to cause to a large number of residents. Whilst we all welcome our status as host region for the Commonwealth Games and realise that construction work will have to be undertaken, I am concerned that rather than leaving a lasting benefit of the Games, the legacy of this particular proposal will be an on-going headache for commuters from across Streetly.

The consultation closes on 19th July and I would encourage residents to make their views known, as indeed I will. It was extremely disappointing to see the adverse weather conditions prevent the Streetly Summer Festival from taking place earlier this month. I appreciate how hard the Streetly Sports and Community Association worked to prepare this year’s festival and they deserve our thanks.

This article was first published in the Royal Sutton Observer on Friday 21st June 2019