From fossils to future in 12 months

Midland Heart’s new development in the Black Country not only provides much-needed homes at affordable rent, it pays homage to the site’s rich geological history.


Midland Heart’s Mons Hill development was purpose-designed to be in keeping with its location – the geologically-famous Wren’s Nest National Nature Reserve at Dudley in the West Midlands.

The £7m development of 43 houses and flats, nestles the reserve and is a joint venture between the housing association and Lovell Partnership Ltd.

Wren’s Nest is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), internationally renowned for its exceptional geological importance, as well as being a national hibernation spot for seven species of bat and home to birds and locally rare wild flowers, including small scabious, milkwort and quaking grass.

Wendy Jones, senior project manager, Midland Heart said: “Mons Hill is in an enviable location and we are delighted it is finally finished and fully occupied. The project was a lot of hard work as our original contractors went into liquidation after starting on the development and due to it being a national nature reserve the design had to meet Natural England’s requirements for such a site. But the end result was well worth all the effort to bring it to completion.”

New tenant Tracie Bassett, who recently moved into a four-bedroomed house with her family of four, enthused: “We were in rented accommodation before and there’s no comparison. This is like a palace; we love everything about it.”

The design of Mons Hill includes a number of fossil reliefs, incorporated into the brickwork and metal railings, while the road names have geological associations. Calymene Mews is called after the calymene blumenbachii  trilobite or “Dudley bug” which is unique to Wren’s Nest and was featured in the borough’s coat of arms until 1974; Silurian Mews takes its name from Wren’s Nest’s well-preserved Silurian coral reef fossils, while Fossil View pays tribute to the 700 types of fossil that have been found at Wren’s Nest, 186 of which were discovered there for the first time.

The development received grant funding from the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) and is made up of six one-bedroom flats and two, three and four-bedroom houses.