Stirchley – planning applications for major shopping developments

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Proposed revision to the boundary of Stirchley Local Centre - yellow (additional land to be taken into the local centre) to be added to blue (retail 'core').

Four planning applications for supermarkets and other retail developments in Stirchley are currently under consideration.

Tesco want to build a food superstore and petrol filling station on land fronting Pershore Road and Hazelwell Lane. The community centre/indoor bowling green will be re-housed in new premises forming part of the Scheme. The land involved is in multiple ownership. Since the proposal was put forward, two further planning applications have been submitted for this site. Chelverton Group Ltd has proposed a mixed-use development, including residential, retail, professional services and food and drink outlets. A non-food retail development with social housing is also being proposed by developers, Helical Retail, working with the Midlands Co-operative Society.  A petition in support of this development is available on their website:

At the other end of Stirchley on the site currently occupied by ArvinMeritor, ASDA want to build a 40,000sq ft superstore, together with a terrace of 18 town houses on Fordhouse Lane. Due to site constraints, ArvinMeritor need to relocate from the Fordhouse site. The company says that the ASDA proposals will provide the resources needed to fund the re-location to a new site in the region, thus protecting the jobs of its 450 employees.

I do not feel that there is any strong support in the local community for additional superstores in Stirchley. However there is no doubt that investment is needed to revitalise the area. In 1994, the Stirchley Framework was adopted as supplementary planning guidance. The aim of the Framework was to attract new investment into the area, to make Stirchley a safer, convenient and more attractive place in which to live, work, shop or pursue leisure activities. However, the resources available to achieve these aims have been inadequate. Since the idea of a Tesco store was mooted, the Council consulted on proposals to amend the Stirchley Framework. The original Framework stated that no major change was necessary and no wholesale redevelopment or upheaval would be required. Applications for excessively large land uses would not be encouraged. These provisions have now been removed and additional land on the Hazelwell Lane side included in the "retail core". This is particularly significant because Government planning guidance discourages supermarket developments outside local centres. In 1994 when the Stirchley Framework was adopted it was considered that Stirchley could not sustain retail activity in the whole of the local centre and the retail core was designated at the Hazelwell Street end of Stirchley near to the Co-op Superstore. However, six years later, many of the small retail units remain outside the "core".

What is happening about the planning applications?

Birmingham City Council did not determine the ASDA/Meritor planning application within the timescale laid down by the Government and, as a result, ArvinMeritor have appealed to the Planning Inspectorate (a central Government body) for non-determination. A public enquiry is set to take place in July. Although the Tesco proposals were the first to become known, their application was submitted much later, probably because of the need for negotiations with the numerous landowners in the area. Birmingham City Council is now considering all three applications for the Hazelwell site. My view is that any new development must support existing retail activity in Stirchley and Cotteridge, not replace it and should not aggravate traffic congestion. I feel it is vital that all four planning applications should be considered together and not in isolation - a view endorsed by the City Council. This will also allow proper evaluation of the various offers of funding for public projects to help regenerate the area (e.g. bringing Bournville Lane Baths back into use, proposed by Helical/Co-op). I have therefore made representations to the Government Office for the West Midlands and the Planning Inspectorate, seeking their co-operation in procedures that will allow this to take place. A copy of my letter to the Government Office is reproduced below. I have pointed out that the current designation of the retail core area, which is crucial in planning terms, can be seen to be somewhat arbitrary and that the manner in which additional land was taken into the "core" appeared to favour the Tesco application. Indeed, the Council has said that the main reason that it would not support the ASDA application was because it was located outside the local centre.

I would be very pleased to receive constituents’ views on these issues click here to email me

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Letter to Government Office for the West Midlands

Graham Garbutt
Regional Director
Government Office for the West Midlands
77 Paradise Circus
B1 2DT

11th June 2002


Dear Mr Garbutt,

Planning Applications submitted by Tesco Stores Ltd (S/01752/02/OUT), Chelverton Group Ltd (S/01396/02/OUT) and Helical Retail Ltd/Midlands Co-op Ltd (S/01563/02/OUT) relating to land off Pershore Road and Hazelwell Lane, Stirchley

Planning Application submitted by Asda Stores Ltd and Arvin Meritor Ltd (S/05426/01/OUT – APP/P4605/A/02/1085277) relating to land off Fordhouse Lane, Stirchley

The above planning applications relate to sites located within my constituency.

The application submitted by Asda Stores and Arvin Meritor for the Fordhouse Lane site is the subject of an appeal for non-determination which is due to be heard on 16 July 2002.

The other applications remain to be considered by Birmingham City Council.

Earlier this year, the City Council adopted a planning brief for the Stirchley area. This proposed amendments to the Stirchley Framework, which had been adopted as Supplementary Planning Guidance in 1994. The changes made envisaged major developments, not previously considered necessary. Additional land was taken into the local centre in a manner which appeared to favour the Tesco application, which covered a site partly owned by the City Council. It is easily seen by those with local knowledge that the designation of the retail core appears to be somewhat arbitrary. Yet a major factor in the Council’s confirmation that it would have refused the Asda application was that it was outside the local centre.

In view of the foregoing, and given the number of applications currently under consideration, the City Council’s land holdings, the objections of some landowners and other local people, as well as the fact that the Asda/Arvin Meritor proposals are already going to public inquiry, I feel very strongly that all applications should be considered together rather than in the current adhoc form.

I understand that this view is actually supported by Birmingham City Council but that, in a letter dated 30 April 2002 to Neil Crowther of the Council’s Major Development’s Team, Government Office indicated that this would not be possible. I regret this decision. However an offer was made to delay the public enquiry of the Asda appeal until Birmingham City Council has reached decisions on the other applications.

Birmingham City Council have now indicated that they would wish for the inquiry to be delayed so that there may be an opportunity for all of the applications to be considered at one inquiry. I very strongly support this position. The feedback I have from my constituents is that there is no great support for major supermarket developments, but that the Asda proposal is preferable to the one submitted by Tesco. At the same time, there is enthusiasm for major planning gain to be brought to the Stirchley centre but recognition that this would not be necessary if public capital were to be made available at a level that could permit genuine partnership with commercial development rather than being subservient to it.

I am copying this letter to the Planning Inspectorate and hope that there will be a favourable response. (It would be even better if the decision not to call in all relevant applications could be revisited – there is surely sufficient flexibility to permit this in the public interest.) It is vital that the best possible outcome can be delivered to the local community and local businesses. I am convinced that this outcome will only be possible with one public inquiry dealing with all four planning applications and would request that appropriate procedures are put in place to achieve this.

Yours sincerely,


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