Council leaders in Walsall are concerned that planned expansion of the Merry Hill shopping centre could hit trade in the town.

The fear is highlighted in Walsall Council's formal response to the Black Country Study, which sets out plans for economic development over the next 30 years.

Although the council is broadly backing the study, it wants the enlargement of Merry Hill to be phased to ensure "fair regeneration opportunities" for Walsall and other Black Country boroughs.

There are concerns that the rapid growth of Merry Hill could take retail investment away from Walsall town centre.

The Black Country Study is a blueprint to help to create jobs, improve skill levels, as well as providing better housing, accessible transport, environmental improvements, better shops and leisure facilities.

Walsall Council is also calling for more realistic targets set for building houses on former industrial land, along with wider proposals to improve the borough's transport links.

There are further concerns at the possibility that responsibility for economic regeneration could pass to a Greater-Birmingham city region authority. The role should remain with the relevant councils - Walsall, Wolverhampton, Sandwell and Dudley - rather than any new "delivery' organisation", according to Walsall.

Executive director Tim Johnson said: "Walsall Council strongly supports the Black Country study as the people of this borough will clearly benefit.

"However, we have raised a number of issues which we feel should be addressed to help ensure that Walsall attracts its fair share of regeneration opportunities to create a better borough."

Cabinet members have been recommended to back the draft plan drawn up by the Black Country Consortium, subject to the conditions raised, when they meet on Wednesday April 12.