The Black Country must absorb higher housing levels to save greenfield sites from taking on the 400,000 extra homes proposed by the Government for the next 20 years, environmental campaigners said.
T he West Midlands Regional Assembly has put forward new proposals for the planning of the Black Country over the next 15 years after a major study of the area.
The Black Country Study looks at developing four retail centres, including Merry Hill, as well as building large numbers of offices in a bid to attract more jobs to the area as the manufacturing sector continues to decline.
It hopes 154,000 jobs will have been created between 2001 and 2031, along with 71,000 homes.
Transport improvements include a network of Metro lines linking strategic centres to Birmingham and active traffic management for the M5, M6 and M42 motorway junctions.
Alan Cave, of the Black Country Consortium, said: "We want to reverse the process of outward migration - the figures are very aspirational but, in terms of sustainability, we need to get through this magnitude of jobs change to combat the loss of 65,000 jobs in manufacturing by 2021.
"If the Black Country fails to meet the housing targets, that will have a knock-on effect for the wider region."
The Campaign to Protect Rural England said the regeneration was critical to the region's success in halting the exodus of people and jobs to the countryside and in supporting urban regeneration.
It said the proposals would give the Black Country a much needed shot in the arm - economically, socially and environmentally.
But it said the proposed level of house building should be reconsidered in the wake of new household projections from the Government, which suggest that up to 50 per cent more houses may need to be built across the region than are currently planned.
Peter Langley, chairman of CPRE West Midlands, said: "If house building in the Black Country does not increase further, it will mean that other parts of the region have to deliver more houses. This is bound to lead to increased pressure for house building in the green belt, sensitive small towns and villages, and perhaps even in open countryside."
Mr Cave said the current figures were not set in stone.
He added: "The Black Country figures are still projections rather than targets to give flexibility. There is no closing of doors suggesting the Black Country has a Berlin Wall around it and that these are the figures we are going for full stop."
Brian Summers, of the Business Council, raised concerns that the transport measures would fail to support such growth in the Black Country.
He said: "My concern is the revised strategy doesn't actually look at integrated transport, it looks piecemeal and silo-driven. Where are metro links to rail? There are none in the Black Country. Where are the key routes through the Black Country? It is not very easy to go through that area.
"Where is the western access in terms of freight and will active traffic management be enough? I doubt it."