Stirchley has, for some time, been a little neglected, suffering like other small shopping areas, from the seemingly unstoppable drift to the big supermarkets and the larger retail centres with their national chain stores. A lack of significant investment from the City Council hasn’t helped either.
Many local residents, like myself, are quite content with the one existing Co-op superstore backed up by a range of small high street shops, such as the popular local greengrocer. The area has also been boosted in recent times by the arrival of the innovative and vibrant Stirchley Community Market, with the exciting addition of a Community Bakery opening very soon.
(Photograph by Greensnapper http://www.greensnapperphotography.com/)
Large areas off the lower High Street have been left derelict for many years, with the land held by rival supermarket Tesco, who are waiting to build their own supermarket virtually opposite the existing Co-op. The City Council has recently given Tesco planning permission to build their store, leading to the loss of the indoor bowls centre and the inevitable closure of the Co-op.
So now with Asda planning its own supermarket at the back of the upper High Street, off Fordhouse Lane, we could have two huge new supermarkets.
So what is the problem – won’t this revive the area?
No, far from it, the precedent tends to be that big supermarkets undermine small retailers, often forcing them out of business and weakening the local supply chain, further reducing local employment. Research has shown that spending in local shops can generate up to four times as much to the local economy, compared to any national chain. And the threat is not only to Stirchley, but also to other retail centres including Cotteridge, Kings Norton Green and Kings Heath.
An already congested Pershore Road will become virtually gridlocked with the additional traffic created by the two new supermarkets.
Additionally, FOE has long been concerned about the way leading supermarkets treat suppliers, particularly farmers in Britain and globally; seemingly focused, as they are, on cheapness at all costs.
At the time of writing we are awaiting the outcome of the planning enquiry, which closed on July 7th, and there will have been a further meeting of the local campaign against the Asda plan on July 19th.
To find out more visit the Super Stirchley website at: superstirchley.wordpress.com