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Call for extension to ‘inaccessible’ Black Country Plan consultation

Campaigners have called for a consultation into controversial housing plans to be extended due to access issues.

The Black Country Plan, which is out for consultation until Monday, will see thousands of homes built on green belt sites across the region.

It has sparked a wave of protests across the four boroughs, including a group in Walsall who are campaigning to protect a site next to the Arboretum.

They say the consultation has been poorly organised and has excluded people without access to the internet, meaning thousands of residents are still unaware of the plans.

A petition launched by the group against the proposed 592-home development at Calderfields has been signed by more than 1,600 people.

It is backed by St Matthew’s councillor Aftab Nawaz, who has written to Walsall Council leader Mike Bird outlining concerns over the consultation.

In his letter, Labour group leader Mr Nawaz said residents had complained about the “lack of opportunity” to access the proposals and respond to them.

He said: “The communication of this plan and the communication on how to add to the consultation has been extremely poor and over complicated meaning that many are unaware of it and many are unable to respond.

“I am afraid if the consultation is not extended that our residents throughout the borough will be disenfranchised and this consultation will be seen as no more than a sham.

“It is vital that public confidence is maintained during such consultations and it is my view that the public in Walsall has no or very little confidence that this consultation has been open, transparent or sufficient.”

Mr Nawaz, who sits on the council’s planning committee, called on Mr Bird to “urgently intervene” to extend the consultation so more residents can have their say.

He has also called for letters to be sent out to all households highlighting where the plan can be accessed.

Campaigners are set to be at Walsall Arboretum on Saturday morning urging residents to get involved in the consultation, which closes at 5pm on October 11.

The petition can be seen at chng.it/zSTR6szYzt.

Article originally posted on Express & Star.

 

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