THOUSANDS of people have joined the fight to try to stop luxury homes being built in the middle of a Dudley nature reserve and campaigners hope to rally more support at a public meeting this week.

Nearly 7,000 people have already joined the Save Saltwells Nature Reserve group on Facebook after news broke that a planning application to build nine executive-style detached homes with double garages in the middle of Saltwells Local Nature Reserve had been submitted to Dudley Council.

More than 7,500 people have also signed an online petition calling for the scheme to be scrapped.

Hundreds have also lodged formal objections with Dudley Council's planning department.

A statement submitted to the council on behalf of the applicant, KB Extruders, says the plan offers an "exciting opportunity to acquire and develop a woodland site in the heart of the Black Country within a short drive of Birmingham City Centre".

However - residents, dog walkers and hikers who use the reserve, which is known locally for its bluebells, fear the development of four and five bedroom homes would cut the beauty spot in half and prove damaging to wildlife.

The reserve covers more than 247 acres and combines the wood, scrubland meadows and a large reed swamp.

John Williams shot the drone footage featured above to show how his family has enjoyed the nature reserve

In the middle of the urban beauty spot is the site of the old Saltwells House which was demolished in 2010 and it is here that developers want to build the collection of high end homes.

Campaigner Lesley Dunn, of the Save Saltwells Nature Reserve group, said: “This site is integral to the wood and the wood is integral to the nature reserve.

“We have had thousands of people sign up to oppose this scheme and we are now holding a public meeting which we hope will attract a huge turnout.”

West Midlands Police has also registered an objection to the plan - saying the development’s isolated location would make it prone to burglaries.

A letter submitted by cops to the local authority says the area viewed from above the proposed nine homes would "look like an island in a sea of trees - in a very vulnerable location". The letter praises the design and layout of the scheme but says it "would be better suited in an area where the need for 4/5 bedroom houses are needed" and in an "area where there is better natural surveillance from the roadside and other surrounding properties".

Birmingham based refuse bag manufacturer KB Extruders, which is behind the scheme, has not responded to a request for comment but a design and access statement submitted on behalf of the family firm to the council's planning website says "the proposed arrangement and sizes of the properties has been designed to make good use of the site" and it adds that the development would "serve the local community and bring investment and interest in the area".

A public meeting, organised by the Save Saltwells Nature Reserve campaign, will be held at Primrose Hill Community Church, Chapel Street, Netherton, tomorrow (Thursday November 1) at 6pm.

The deadline for people to submit objections/comments to the council regarding the planning application (P18/1373) is Wednesday November 21.