M5 ‘green buffer’ and playing fields on list of Sandwell Council sites to go under hammer

Mounts Road, Wednesbury
-Credit: (Image: Google Maps)

A ‘green buffer’ next to the M5 and playing fields are among the sites set to be put up for sale by a council. Sandwell Council has revealed four sites it plans to sell off which include green space in Mounts Road, Wednesbury, and green space next to the M5 in Oldbury.

The council will also be entertaining bids on a huge patch of tree-filled land next to the Black Country New Road in Wednesbury. The council says it has more than 130 ‘assets’ on its books that are worth around £11m and surplus to requirements and is now looking to sell those off to meet a ‘savings target’ of more than £4m in the next two years.

With more than half of the council’s ‘surplus’ property portfolio marked for ‘disposal’ - many more sites are expected to be put up for sale soon. But recent, and not-so-recent decisions - which have seen M5 housing plans thrown out over cancer fears from pollution and neighbouring council-owned sites left empty for decades - will no doubt affect what the land could be potentially used for.

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Earlier this year, a move to build 60 homes on nearby green space next to the M5 was turned down by Sandwell councillors over fears toxic pollution could cause cancer for future residents. The authority’s planning committee rejected an application in February to build the mix of flats and homes on a much-loved ‘wildlife corridor’ off Titord Road - a stone’s throw from Old Park Lane.

Old Park Lane in Oldbury
Old Park Lane in Oldbury -Credit:Google Maps

The plan was rejected over fears that future residents would be subject to toxic pollution from not only the M5 but Wolverhampton Road and Titford Road – with the predicted level of poisonous fumes from the busy roads breaching illegal levels for families by the time they moved onto the new estate.

The field in Mounts Road, Wednesbury, which is also set to be put on sale sits opposite another site previously owned by Sandwell Council which has been plagued by issues since permission was granted to build homes on the land a decade ago.

The move to build 45 homes on the site of the former coal mine was backed by the council in November last year – but only after it was redrawn to avoid being built next to several capped mines. The land had been earmarked for housing by Sandwell Council for several years and the planning application was in addition to a wider plan to build up to 365 homes on land around Mounts Road.

Black Country New Road, Wednesbury
Black Country New Road, Wednesbury -Credit:Google Maps

A plan to build homes on the derelict and fenced-off site was approved by Sandwell Council in 2014 but the work was never carried out – with around a quarter of the land unusable because it is classed as a ‘stand-off zone’ which cannot be used for new homes by law.

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The old colliery in Mounts Road was converted into a tip in the 1970s alongside new maisonettes. These were demolished in the late 1990s because of subsistence and the land has remained empty since. A council-commissioned report, which remains secret, identified 137 ‘assets’ across the borough that were deemed surplus to requirements - including some which were written off ‘several’ years ago.

The council said some of the ‘surplus’ sites include garages and forecourts next to housing developments, ‘low quality and low-value open space’ as well as sites that could be used for housing or employment.

Of those 137 sites, the council identified 57 which could be sold and 49 that required ‘further investigation’. The council then found 36 sites in those that required further investigation with a ‘top 15’ chosen for those that had “significant development opportunity.” From those 15, the council selected the four sites in Wednesbury and Oldbury that will now be discussed by councillors.

Sandwell Council’s cabinet meets in Oldbury on July 17.