regeneration

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.

Moseley Big Plan returns to the community

by Claire Spencer

Back in 2010, Moseley residents, visitors and businesses were asked to imagine the sort of place that they would like Moseley to become. Not as an idle daydream, but to feed into the Moseley Big Plan – a set of aims and objectives to judge developments by. Since that time, the Moseley Regeneration Group has been working in partnership with Birmingham City Council to turn those insights into a ‘supplementary planning document‘.

So I was really pleased to hear today that Birmingham City Council has agreed that the latest draft is now allowed to go out to public consultation. Given that local people helped to create this plan, it is very important that they help Birmingham City Council to ensure that this plan meets Moseley’s ambitions.

We’ll put up the approved draft when it is released – but until then, here are some consultation dates for you to put in your diaries:

  • June 12th – Moseley & Kings Heath Ward Committee – 7pm – St. Columba’s Church
  • June 14th – Moseley Exchange (time TBC)
  • June 27th – The MAC (time TBC)
  • July 2nd – Moseley Co-op (time TBC)

Kings Heath Post Office petition presented to Full Council

by Claire Spencer

At Full Council on April 9th, Councillor Martin Straker-Welds presented the 1500 signatures we collected over two weeks from local people concerned about the possible loss of Kings Heath Post Office from the High Street. The petition was addressed to Sharon Lea, Strategic Director for Environment & Culture:

Thank you to everyone who signed the petition in person and online – we will make sure that we convey any news on the progress of the petition as we hear it.

Save Kings Heath Post Office – join us on Saturday March 16th!

by Claire Spencer

Plans have been announced to close four Crown Post Offices in Birmingham by re-opening them as franchises in retail outlets – one of these is one of our own, Kings Heath. While it is always positive for services to monitor how well they are serving their community, and to adapt in order to serve them better, we fear that integrating Kings Heath Post Office with a retail outlet will lead to unacceptable consequences.

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The risk of losing elements of the service it provides to local people that are deemed unprofitable, or ‘surplus to requirements’ is a real concern. We do not want to face a situation where the purpose of the Post Office narrows gradually, to the detriment of local provision for local people.

We also fear that it will be difficult to fill the gap on the High Street once the Post Office is gone – there are already numerous charity shops, betting shops and payday lenders on the High Street, and the likelihood is, in a recessionary environment, that those sort of businesses will fill the gap, diminishing the diversity of Kings Heath.

As noted in the Birmingham Mail, the councillors, members of Moseley & Kings Heath Labour Party and other local people will be outside Kings Heath Post Office this Saturday, collecting signatures in support of keeping the Post Office where it is. We’ll be there from 9:30am-12:30pm, if you would like to join us!

If you can’t make it on Saturday, but would like to be added to the petition or to collect signatures in your own time, let us know by emailing mkhlabour@gmail.com – or sign it online here. Post Offices are for everyone, and we need to show that we value ours.

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.

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