Thursday, 30 June 2011

Super Stirchley fights back against ASDA

On Tuesday evening I went to a lively meeting at the British Oak pub in Stirchley where over 40 passionate local residents and shop-keepers came together under the banner "Super Stirchley".

They were there to discuss what can be done to stop a large ASDA supermarket being given planning permission and also how they can promote their vision of a vibrant and exciting high street.

Tom Baker of Loaf has been a real driving force behind this, but he is certainly not alone and it seems that there is a lot of strong feeling in Stirchley about the issue now. Hopefully, this time the council planning officers will listen to local people rather than big business (unlike in Moseley).
There are very strong reasons why this planning application should be refused:

Traffic and Transport
Another large supermarket will drastically increase traffic, impact on local air quality, safety of pedestrians, particularly local school children, and work to make the Pershore Road corridor a ‘smart route’. ASDA’s traffic data does not reassure me that there will not be a significant negative impact on the health of Stirchley. I therefore urge the council to do carry out a thorough, independent and transparent assessment of the traffic and transport issues.

Poor design
The design does not connect the store to the local high street, meaning it will have a negative impact on trade and attempts to rejuvenate the area. It is also well outside of Stirchley’s ‘retail core’ as identified in the Stirchley Framework SPD, and reiterated in the recent draft Birmingham Core Strategy. The loss of high street parking, the three-lane vehicular access from the Pershore road that crudely cuts through the established building line (contrary to the Birmingham UDP), and consequent poor pedestrian access to the site from the high street are also of concern.

Proof of Need
With the existing CO-OP and the approved and pending TESCO, there will already be considerable supermarket provision in Stirchley. The need for a third supermarket should be fully proven and independently scrutinised. The land could be used for more pressing requirements such as employment, housing or leisure as identified in the draft Core Strategy LDF (s10): “Outside the [retail] core encouragement will be given to conversion and redevelopment for high quality residential, office and non retail uses.”

The Local Economic Impact
Along with the loss of parking spaces, the high volume of car traffic will impede the local businesses’ ability to trade, not only in Stirchley, but also in Bournville, Cotteridge, Selly Park, and Kings Heath. I also fear a loss of skilled, entrepreneurial jobs in the local area as the National Retail Planning Forum conclude that on average a new large supermarket leads to 276 job losses within a 10-mile radius.

Shops in Stirchley will be collecting objections to the planning application, as will members of Super Stirchley at the CoCoMad festival this weekend. If you care about the future of Stirchley and keeping a thriving local high street there, please go to the council website and search for Planning application 2011/03485/PA (Land off Pershore Road/Fordhouse Lane Former Arvin Meritor Works Stirchley Birmingham B30 3BW). Object either using some of the points listed here, or your own objections before 7th July.

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