Birmingham City Council rescinded Lidl’s planning application for the FitnessFirst / PSL Bowling site. This was due to the Judicial Review request, which was submitted on behalf of residents by the Environmental Law Foundation. People in Stirchley objected on the grounds that the new Lidl development would deprive the community of leisure facilities.
A victory for residents
Ian MacLeod, Assistant Director for Planning and Regeneration, spoke at a public meeting in Stirchley yesterday. He said the legal challenge against the council’s decision had, “strong merit”. This was with respect to sporting and leisure provision.
None of this would have happened without the hard work of local activists, residents, Councillor Mary Locke, and our MP, Steve McCabe. Popular local campaigner, Liz Clements, said, “Planning officers announced this right at the start of the meeting last night to a huge cheer! I’ve never experienced anything like it at a public meeting.”
Liz added, “Even though the council overturned planning permission, there’s nothing to stop Lidl making another application. If Lidl do so, the application will effectively be treated as a new application.”
So while the fight may not be over, we celebrate this huge victory for residents. It shows us how much the community can achieve with an MP and councillor on its side.
Councillor Mary Locke celebrates the news
Cllr Locke said, “This is fantastic news for Stirchley. I congratulate all the residents who came together to campaign in support of vital leisure facilities in our community. It’s now high time for planners to put the views of local people first. If Lidl makes a further application I’ll stand with residents again!”
She added, “The loss of these leisure facilities would be a huge blow to the community. Local people are worried that a Lidl would exacerbate congestion, turning existing traffic problems into greater hazards. I also heard many complaints that Lidl was set to have just 20 full time staff. This would have meant net job losses for the area, as the gym and bowling alley currently employ 61 people.”
What’s next for Lidl?
Tesco pulling out of Stirchley leaves us with a huge amount of brownfield land that needs developing. Steve McCabe said, “This news is a real blow to my constituents who have shown a lot of goodwill and patience over the past few years over the store. I’m concerned about the loss of jobs. I will be having further discussions with Tesco about their decision not to go ahead with the superstore.”
Tesco were due to create over 300 jobs, but there is enough space here for a mixed site: a supermarket, affordable housing, and other facilities, something Steve supports. We cannot let this land go to waste any longer.