Yet again we have a supermarket sniffing around the Birmingham area and the City Council seem quite open to their advances.
ASDA does not yet have any stores south of the city and has had a bus touring around the Selly Oak and Barnes Hill area, getting views on two plans in each area. Both plans seem controversial – the one in Selly Oak is opposite an already well developed retail park with planning permission to develop the area further, and the Barnes Hill one is planned to go on Birmingham parkland and an RSPCA site.
The first plan is in Selly Oak opposite Battery Retail Park, and there are quite a few problems with this. Battery Retail Park already has planning permission to expand so there is no reason to have another supermarket in the area. Also it looks like it will affect the row of shops along the Bristol Road. Although the plan includes retail outlets they don’t seem to have matched the units of shops already established there and there are some interesting triangular shaped retail units to replace them.
However, it seems that the Barnes Hill site is sparking more controversy and it seems like a case of déjà vu – the Tesco developments at Yardley and Hodge Hill are taking green spaces in the city and now it looks like more green land is threatened in the Bartley Green area. The site includes the RSPCA animal cemetery, as Councillor Deirdre Alden mentions in her blog. What Cllr Alden doesn’t mention is that the site takes up a green area adjacent to, or part of, Woodgate Valley, a designated country park which is owned by the City Council. Here we have a situation where a supermarket is threatening another area of the city that the Council is more than capable of stopping – not at the planning stage where they are not always capable of turning down developments due to Government guidelines – but at the stage of land acquisition. Birmingham City Council do not have to sell the land. The Council is quite rare in that it owns so much land; there is no need to sell off all the family silver right now.
Please watch this space. When the planning applications come in, please send in your opinions to the Council.