An eco-friendly health and wellbeing centre could take pride of place on ancient meadowland in Amblecote earmarked for housing, if campaigners fighting to save the space get their way.
Plans to consult the wider Stourbridge community are now under way from the Corbett Meadow Action Group, backed by the Stourbridge Community Development Trust who describe the initiative as ‘world-beating.’
They have commissioned local artist David Johnson to produce a painting of the ground-breaking facility to illustrate a future scene with a health and wellbeing pavilion built on site. Activists’ proposals also include an ‘outdoor environmental classroom’ which will make use of the land, working with schools and other local stakeholders.
The centre would lead on green prescribing – helping people to get outside to improve mental health at the site behind Corbett Outpatients Centre.
Charles Church, part of Persimmon, has drawn up extensive plans, including 90 homes, for 14 acres of untouched land which protestors have been fighting to preserve.
Campaigners are made up of all political parties and community leaders and activists say the centre would be a viable alternative use for the site with improved “financial savings for the NHS and social capital returns.”
They are calling on Dudley Group NHS Trust Chief Executive Diane Wake to meet and listen to the health centre plans.
Corbett Meadow Action Group spokesman Lance Cartwright said: “COVID-19 has sparked greater recognition of how important it is for our emotional health to be outdoors, and how access to green space can address inequality.
“The NHS has a long-term plan committed to significantly expanding social prescribing and our plans fit perfectly with this.
“Social prescribing and community-based support can provide a massive boost to the NHS. It links people to nature-based interventions and activities, including walking in the fresh air. What better place is there than Corbett Meadow to take the lead in such healthy schemes?
“This pavilion could be the focus for a range of physical and mindfulness activities including yoga, walking, outdoor art classes, music for dementia and general appreciation of the natural beauty, all of which have been proven to address improved patient recovery times , diabetes, osteoarthritis and a range of health conditions.
“The empowerment of local communities through the proposed use of the land is also in line with the West Midlands Combined Authority land use charter and the government’s Levelling up white paper and ultimately helps us to address climate change and the road to net zero.”
“The Land Charter also allows for public land and assets to be disposed of under best consideration instead of best value. This will allow the NHS Trust to carry out its legal duty by taking account of cost savings and an increase in social capital over a 25-year period.
“We have widespread support for retention of the meadow. This comes from our local community, schools, councillors, MP Suzanne Webb, West Midlands mayor Andy Street and many others.
“Support has also been expressed by many NHS practitioners, third sector organisations, health charities, environmental groups and key figures in nature conservation.
“All we are asking is that the Dudley Group NHS Trust and its chief executive, Diane Wake, meet with CMAG and SCDT to listen and discuss as we make a case for our proposal.
By supporting the plans for the health and wellbeing pavilion, the Trust can build an even stronger relationship with the local community, the people of Stourbridge and the wider Black Country.
The meadow, off Vicarage Road, is part of land that was gifted to the people of Stourbridge in 1892 by John Corbett, for the building of a hospital and became part of the NHS in 1948.
It appears on maps as early as the 15th century, with the same visible features as it has today; making it the last remaining piece of old Amblecote.
Consultation on the plans will include events, leafleting campaigns and CGI modelling commissioned by the campaigners.
Anyone wanting to find out more or support the proposals for the health and wellbeing pavilion at Corbett Meadow is asked to join a Friends of Corbett Meadows group on Facebook.