Here’s a puzzle that I’d like answered: You take a boat out to really deep water. On the deck of the boat is a really really heavy anchor on a short chain. When you throw the anchor into the water, does the anchor keep going and drag the boat after it ?

I ask because part of Birmingham, Spring Hill, has a proposed shopping development and part of it, a supermarket, is to be The Anchor. Why is a supermarket an anchor anyway ? Could you wake up one morning to find a parade of small shops blocking the street because it was not properly anchored ?

Birmingham FOE has its own local Shops campaign that expresses concerns that building yet more supermarkets usually means that local shops are lost. There aren’t black and white cases as items in a supermarket may be cheaper than in the local shop – price savings at the shop, but the customer has had to travel and that travel has taken up more time. The customer can solve this by living close to the supermarket. There may be a downside: streams of cars heading to the supermarket car park.

If you have got as far as reading this blog, you have more time than many people and could also go through the following website and make a comment on the planning application… website and look at Application number: C/02037/08/OUT
Location: Spring Hill / Icknield Street / Camden Street / Ellen Street, former Brookfield Precinct, Hockley, Birmingham, Proposal: Erection of foodstore (Class A1), 8 additional retail units (for A1, A2, A3, A4 or A5 use) with offices above (B1 or B2 use), 6 three-storey dwellings and alterations to Spring Hill Library, associated parking, landscaping and highway works, redevelopment of Birmingham Central Baptist Church to provide reconfigured and extended accommodation. In the development, the supermarket is to be ‘the anchor’.

Birmingham FOE’s planning campaigners have so far said:
Outline Planning application C/02037/08/OUT, Spring Hill, Camden St, Ellen Street,

The proposal to provide housing in a location close to existing facilities and services is welcome. However, the housing is a small part of the development that is dominated by a Supermarket. Does the whole development work, and does it comply with the planning rules ?

FOE have concerns about the Sustainable Development issues such as set out in paragraph 3.14E of The Birmingham Plan 2005. In particular the supermarket carries a 316 space car park with entrances and exits on Camden St and Ellen St that will considerably inconvenience pedestrians. FOE ask for seating spaced at suitable intervals on routes that radiate out from the shopping centre as it is claimed people will walk there.

FOE further state that the size and height of the proposed development provide an opportunity to collect energy from the sun through the use of solar water heating and/or photovoltaic cells on the roofs and the southerly facing facades. This to be in accordance with The Birmingham Plan 2005 paragraph 3.79.

On transport FOE ask where taxis and minibuses will wait / set down staff and customers and suggest this will need to be covered in a Travel Plan.

Tesco, the supermarket in this case, does not, however, consider the availability of the planet’s resources. Is it right that we fuel-prosperous Brummies take long drives past adequate but smaller shops closer to home, which leads to the demise of our local High Streets and corner shops?

John Hall