My submission (August 1999) is reproduced below.

Plans are on display at Selly Oak Library

1.   New Hospital Facilities and Service Changes

I support new investments in hospital services currently provided at the Queen Elizabeth and Selly Oak Hospitals. My preference would be for the ‘Plaza’ option, as proposed in the Development Study, which involves the relocation of the Psychiatric Hospital. The hospital should not go ahead until:

    • the relocation of the psychiatric hospital and employment services centre is agreed;
    • a clearly planned interim parking strategy has been developed;
    • finance for the building of the road and upgrading of the University station has been arranged;
    • assurances have been given that the Health Authority will keep its promise that the new hospital will not be built at the expense of other priorities in healthcare.

I am concerned that the supplement to the 26 May edition of Birmingham Voice, ‘Have Your Say on Selly Oak’, gives the impression that the ‘Plaza’ option for the new hospital involves building "on land between the Women’s Hospital and the Psychiatric Hospital". The authors of the study actually proposed the relocation of the Psychiatric Hospital, the employment services centre and, possibly, the medical school laboratories. Only this option gives the flexibility for future developments to adapt to changing health care needs.


2.   New Employment Uses

    I support the proposed medi-business park and the creation of 1000 high-tech jobs in the Selly Oak area, but would like to see the garden centre and as much of the allotments area as possible retained. A more acceptable option would be to develop the main medi-park, in conjunction with expansion of the medical school, on land released by the relocation of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.


3.   New Retail Park

    I am not prepared to support additional retail development until a shopping strategy for South Birmingham has been produced. I am extremely concerned at the proposal to increase the size of the Sainsbury’s store by 45%, especially as Sainsbury also wish to build large stores in Northfield and at the Maypole.

    I am concerned that no mention is made in the Voice supplement of the Study’s assessment that the new retail park would attract at least 9000 extra vehicles a day to the area. I do not believe that the rest of the Selly Oak shopping area would be improved by such an increase in traffic.

    Have the Directors of Planning, Transportation and Economic Development altered the view they expressed in their joint report to various Council committees, in January/February of this year, that the maximum retail option is too large and unacceptable? I note that the minimum option includes 1050 parking spaces and the maximum option 1270 parking spaces. Council officers stated in January that the consultants who produced the Study considered that all significant developments should contribute to provision of the new infrastructure. Yet, in the Development Study, the consultants actually state that, even without a contribution to the infrastructure, the minimum retail option returns a substantial deficit due to the abnormal costs of the site. Only the maximum retail option might yield a small surplus. In view of the fact that assessments of both the minimum and maximum retail options exclude the road and infrastructure, the lack of viability of the minimum option and the unacceptability, even to Council officers, of the maximum option, I find it difficult to understand why the Council is promoting large-scale retail redevelopment.


4.   New Housing

    Any new housing should be provided in such a way as to assist, not hinder the return of as much of the terraced housing in Bournbrook and Selly Oak for family use. All new housing should be to a high standard, and a large proportion should be affordable by people on average and below average incomes.


5.   Environmental Improvements

    I am in favour of improvements to the environment and traffic reduction on Bristol Road, but I am not convinced that the proposals achieve these aims. In particular, I am concerned about the adverse impact on Bournbrook of the proposed junction with the relief road and Bristol Road, and extra traffic being generated by expansion in retail development.

    I am in favour of any proposals to enhance pedestrian and cycle routes, and introduce traffic calming along residential roads. How will these be financed?

    In relation to ‘improvements’ to public space and public squares, I am mostly concerned to ensure that the nature reserves along Bournbrook Valley and other natural areas are preserved. I am not sure why a new park is proposed. The City already has difficulty maintaining other parks, including the nearby Selly Oak park. This proposal seems a sop to opposition about the loss of allotments and nature reserves.

    I would be in favour of the new public square linking the University station and any new hospital.


6.   Transport

    Public Transport

    I do not think that the improvements to public transport are adequate to deter car use along Bristol Road. To some extent this is outside the scope of the Study. The Council needs to find ways to discourage traffic coming from the City boundaries, Longbridge and Northfield. Park and Ride, a new station at Rubery and congestion pricing are all suggestions that need investigating.

    I support the proposal to provide a new railway station at Raddlebarn Road, and am also attracted by the idea of moving the Selly Oak station nearer to Bristol Road with better car parking arrangements. What prospects are there of finance for these developments?

    New Link Road

    If the hospital development on the ‘Plaza’ site is to go ahead, a new road between Harborne Lane and the hospital entrance is absolutely essential. Redevelopment of the hospital on the ‘Plaza’ site is unacceptable without accompanying road infrastructure. The road should be built so as to retain the nursery and as much of the allotment site as possible. Any link to the Bristol Road via Grange road is unacceptable, and I understood this to be the view of City Council officers in the report mentioned above from January/February 1999. I am concerned about the adverse impact of a new junction with the Bristol Road in the Bournbrook area. Further work needs to be done so that any realistic options can be considered in a future consultation exercise, also taking into account other traffic reduction policies affecting the A38 corridor.


7.   General Comments

I remain concerned that elected representatives have had no access to the consultants, either before or after their report was produced. I was outraged to be told by a Planning Officer that this was because the commissioning parties "considered it important that an independent perspective be obtained about the future of the Selly Oak area and that the conclusions are not influenced by any particular interest or individual views". In their report, the consultants state that a number of discussions took place with "key partners" in the study, as well as other agencies who have a role in the area. I understand this included the Lapal Canal Trust and Centro.

It is quite wrong to have excluded elected representatives and to have relied only on Council officers to convey to the consultants the views of the local community. I believe that the involvement of myself and colleagues at an earlier stage would have allowed many outstanding concerns and queries to be cleared up. At the consultation stage, it should have been possible for the public to question the consultants about their report.

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