CAMPAIGNERS are aiming to make people aware of the "biggest crisis in greenbelt history" in the borough - and claim "fantastic" sites in Cradley, Stourbridge and Halesowen are under threat.

Around 90 people attended a meeting in Cradley last week and another has been organised by concerned Cradley and Wollescote councillors at Wollescote Community Centre in Wassell Road on Tuesday July 23, at 7pm.

Mick Freer, of Save Halesowen's Countryside, said Dudley Council is offering the borough's greenbelt for other land-strapped councils such as Birmingham City Council, to use for possible development to fulfil their housing needs up to 2036. Mr Freer, who will be at the next meeting, said: "We are foolishly going to allow our precious greenbelt and fantastic sites like Halesowen Abbey, the former home of Lord Dudley The Grange, Lapal Farm - all these impressive sites - they are now severely threatened.

"They have invited people to put forward sites for development - news which is heaven sent for people who own the land.

"It's a disaster in the making - a huge mistake.

"It's the biggest crisis in greenbelt history for this area - I can't believe it's happening at a time when environmental issues are so important - it's not just the homes, it's the roads, the traffic, doctors surgeries, schools - it will carve up the countryside."

Mr Freer said the group, which runs a Facebook site, has won support from Halesowen and Rowley Regis MP James Morris in the past.

Mr Freer said: "Dudley Council, working with Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton Councils has decided 22,000 homes need to be built on greenbelt land - plus a share of 37,000 houses for which Birmingham City Council has a shortfall in its area.

"We have plenty of brownfield sites in the Dudley borough to accommodate our housing needs, we do not need to use greenbelt - now our planners have decided to include our borough in a review of the greenbelt to identify areas for all these houses."

The Black Country Plan's call for sites for potential development has already seen over 150 specific sites put forward by land owners.

Applications were accepted until June 1 by the planning departments of each of the Black Country's local authorities, as part of a strategy to fulfil housing shortage.

Submissions - not all of which will actually go ahead - included proposals to build 1,500 houses on Foxcote Farm on Oldnall Road in Wollescote, 600 houses at Ketley Farm in Kingswinford, 400 homes at Lapal Farm and 60 homes at Grange Hill, 400 houses on agricultural land on Clent View Road, Norton and 500 houses on Racecourse Lane in Norton.

Councillor Richard Body called for people to attend the meeting.

He said: "We don't want to lose our greenbelt. At the moment there are no firm plans - but the threat is real. The greenbelt we have left it's absolutely valuable and we must protect it.

"In Colley Lane the air quality is already extremely poor - what happens if the greenbelt at the edge of it is developed? Air quality will get worse there will be more traffic, more fumes."

Cllr Patrick Harley, leader of Dudley Council said: “I totally refute the claims being made.

"As a council we have a process to go through, which we are following as per the guidelines. We will be totally protecting our greenbelt.

“We, in partnership with Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton Councils are in the process of putting together the evidence base to support the development of the Black Country Plan. No allocations of any land have been made nor promised.

"As set out in national planning policy, the Government requires councils to co-operate on strategic cross boundary planning matters during the development of the Local Plan and that is an ongoing process.”