environment

Will the sale of BCC land affect railway stations in Moseley & Kings Heath?

by Claire Spencer

Over the last few weeks, questions have been raised over whether the sale of Birmingham City Council land near Bordesley railway station will have an impact on plans to reopen railway stations in Moseley and Kings Heath, as well as in several other locations around Birmingham. Some residents have been worried that the sale will act as further disincentive to reopen the stations.

Local Labour Party members – including the councillors – are in favour of reopening the stations in Moseley & Kings Heath. I haven’t yet met a resident that isn’t, come to think of it. So before the Cabinet made their decision to sell the freehold, Councillor Martin Straker-Welds had several discussions with Birmingham Property Services, to find out what impact it would have.

Firstly, let’s establish the site we’re talking about. The wider site is located along Bedford Road and is bounded by Trinity Terrace and Camp Hill. The Council freehold ownership is indicated by an arrow:

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Prior to the sale being agreed, the site was let on a 75 year lease with effect from 1976 with 38 years left to elapse. The land is already developed and in use. The tenant – Sulzer Dowding and Mills – had indicated to their landlord (the current leaseholder) that they would have to relocate to find a site that was more suitably configured, unless the landlord was able to reconfigure the current site. The landlord was unable to borrow the required funds against a 38-year lease – hence their request to BCC to purchase the freehold.

The second part of the map above shows the current line and the potential new line (marked in green). This indicates that – in order to realise the new connection – that other land (which already belongs to the same landlord) would need to be compulsorily purchased anyway if the reopening of the stations was to go ahead. 

Birmingham Property Services have summarised the two possible scenarios thus:

1. The Council retains its freehold land: Any scheme would still need to compulsorily acquire the long leasehold interest. It would also then need to acquire the Council’s freehold interest (voluntarily or by compulsory purchase order (CPO)), then acquire by CPO the required land from the landlord’s freehold interest on either side.

2. The Council sells its freehold interest: Any scheme would then seek to place a CPO the required land from the landlord. There would no longer be a need for BCC to be included in the CPO order for that land.

If the Council had held onto the freehold, they would still be unable to control or influence that land for another 38 years. In order to end the lease earlier, they would have needed to negotiate with the landlord.

So in the short term – and while there is still uncertainty as to when the project could go ahead – it makes a lot of sense to safeguard the jobs that that site supports.

For us in Moseley & Kings Heath, our task is to focus on getting our railway stations. Centro indicated in their draft strategy that the West Midlands Regional Rail Forum wished for the Camp Hill chords development to commence in the next control period (2014-2019), and to continue into the subsequent control period (2019-2024).

If you would like to find out more about this – and what the next steps for any local campaigns might look like – Chris Tunstall, Director of Sustainability, Transportation and Partnerships (BCC) and Toby Ratcliff, Rail Development Manager (Centro) will be taking questions at the next Moseley Forum meeting on July 1st (7pm; Moseley Exchange). These meetings are open to the public, so please attend.

5-11s can have a Summertastic August with Highbury Orchard CIC!

by Claire Spencer

Every so often, we like to highlight local initiatives that people in Moseley & Kings Heath might find useful, interesting or fun. Summertastic – Go Wild! is a summer holiday outdoor programme for children and parents based in and around Highbury Park which encourages family fun and learning together.

The programme has an overarching woodland theme but there will be different activities on each of the five days: making dens & shelters, using tools and crafting with wood, creating stories, songs or poems, as well as orienteering and mapreading.

You can join in on all or any of the days between August 27-31 (10am-3pm). The cost is £5 per person per day. An adult must accompany any children (no more than three children per adult), and one of the group must be aged 5-11. Siblings who are slightly older or younger are also welcome.

To reserve your places, please contact Liz on 0121 628 2680 or 07752 435 714; or email hoccic@gmail.com.

When the booking is confirmed, download a booking form and complete the details. Make your cheque payable to HIGHBURY ORCHARD COMMUNITY CIC. Send it with your payment to:

Highbury Orchard Community CIC, 73 All Saints Road, Kings Heath B14 7LN.

 

Update on the Meteor Ford tree

by Claire Spencer

On Wednesday June 20th, a number of local people attended a meeting with Tesco about the future of the tree on the Meteor Ford site, following direct action from the community to ensure that it was not unnecessarily cut down.

Moseley Forum say:

To summarise, the tree will remain in situ until it is agreed that it is unsafe and must be removed. The view of Aspect Arboriculture is that the species and current root morphology of the tree will render it unable to withstand the changes to the site that will follow. Our view is that the development should be sensitive to this – so if there is a way of performing the remediation, groundworks and subsequent development without breaching the root protection area, we would like this route to be taken.

Moseley Forum have also attached a copy of the notes from the meeting – please see here for further details.

Newsletter: Where are our trains?

The members of the Moseley & Kings Heath Labour are unanimous in their support of reopening the Moseley & Kings Heath railways stations – but we were surprised at the strength of feeling during the local elections.

As such, Councillor Martin Straker-Welds, now joined by our 2012 candidate Lisa Trickett, have been investigating some practical ways to make this a higher priority among decision-makers. This has been touched on in a recent blog post, but we have produced a simplified version for a leaflet, which will be distributed across Moseley & Kings Heath ward in the coming weeks.

The leaflet also introduces Lisa, who has now been running street surgeries with Martin Straker-Welds for several weeks now. If you would like Lisa and Martin to come to your street, or to run a surgery at your organisation, please leave a comment below, or email us on mkhlabour@gmail.com.

If you would like to see the leaflet, we have uploaded it here.

Moseley & Kings Heath railway stations update

At the full council meeting on Tuesday June 14th, Councillor Martin Straker-Welds raised the question of reopening the Moseley & Kings Heath railway stations with the Cabinet Member for Transportation, Councillor Huxtable. In the run-up to the local elections in May, it was clear that the reopening of the stations was a really important issue to the citizens of Moseley and Kings Heath.

Councillor Huxtable emphasised his support for the scheme, and said he was investigating the possibility of a Regional Growth Fund bid in order for the necessary infrastructure, including the ‘Camp Hill Chord’, so that the trains could be brought into Moor Street Station (the current line goes into New Street Station, but there isn’t enough capacity to reinstate a service that terminated there).

He added that he was aiming for the scheme to be part of the 2014-2019 control period. This is by no means confirmed, but is certainly something to work to.

You may also be interested in this report, which illustrates all the potential schemes which are competing to be approved in the 2014-2019 control period, and a list of potential drivers and constraints. One of the more worrying ones is that the lack of rolling stock will need to be taken into account: i.e. Centro will need to purchase more trains in order to reopen our line.

Challenges notwithstanding, Councillor Straker-Welds and Labour remain committed to reopening the stations, and are putting together the strongest case possible. We’d love to know your thoughts, particularly if you have any constructive suggestions for the business case for reopening the line, or any other evidence that will help this to become reality.

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