Council buys former Saltwells House site
Dudley Council has been successful in purchasing the former Saltwells House site which sits on the edge of the popular Saltwells National Nature Reserve.
The site, which had been ear-marked for housing development was left vacant after plans to develop the site fell through.
The local community rallied round, forming an action group to bring the site back into community ownership. Dudley Council bought the land, the legal completion has taken place and the council is just waiting for confirmation from H M Land Registry that the registration has been processed. This is expected soon.
The site now formally becomes part of the nature reserve and the council hopes to continue its work with The Friends Of Saltwells Nature Reserve to formalise its inclusion in the reserve. Initial plans will include safety and restoration work on the much-loved ‘wishing tree’ to improve public access and ensure the tree is in the best health for the future. There are hopes to develop the newly acquired land and reintroduce more native species to this re-wilded area.
Councillor Shaz Saleem, cabinet member for highways and public realm said:
It’s wonderful to have this piece of land in council ownership and to have safeguarded sites including the much-loved wishing tree for generations to come.
Without the drive and passion of local people and the The Friends Of Saltwells Nature Reserve in particular this would not have happened. Their dedication to Saltwells has paid off and we are doing everything we can, including funding the brand new warden’s base to make Saltwells the community treasure it deserves to be.
Lucy Atherton, Chair of The Friends of Saltwells Nature Reserve said:
The Friends of Saltwells Nature Reserve are delighted to hear this amazing and long anticipated news! We can finally assist the wardens with bringing the land back into the nature reserve and making it a place which is not only safe, but a true focal point for the community to celebrate their efforts and achievement in saving this land for all future generations to cherish and enjoy, whilst conserving it for the precious nature and archaeology that it is home to.
On the land is the locally famous ‘wishing tree’ which is a Western Red Cedar, planted by the Earl of Dudley as a front garden specimen for Saltwells House. It has long been neglected but, happily, the land is back under council ownership and care and the wardens will now be able to make it safe so it may continue to thrive in our wonderful nature reserve.