Stirchley group offer alternative local vision

A group opposing the plans to bring two new supermarkets to Stirchley has offered an alternative vision for the area including a new swimming baths and art gallery. However, their ideas have been labelled ‘naive’ by a local councillor.

Plans designed by Birmingham City University Shani Gabbidon (click to enlarge)

Super-Stirchley‘ are a local pressure group who object to the plans by Asda to bring what would be a third supermarket to the area once the new Tesco is completed. The group have drawn up a plan of their own for the former Arvin Meritor site off Fordhouse Lane currently being targeted by Asda.

Local social enterprise baker Tom Baker who is moving his shop to Stirchley high street later in the year said: “I am furious that the councillors have let the proposed ASDA site sit empty for so long”.

He added:

“Birmingham desperately needs more swimming and leisure provision and a council with any vision could see that a site such as this is perfect for such new facilities – it would act as a true destination for Stirchley and would lead to much-needed regeneration of the area and boost the local economy, whereas the supermarkets are sucking money out of the local economy”

However local councillor Nigel Dawkins responded to the Super-Stirchley proposals by calling then ‘naive’. He said: “Super Stirchley seem to have a pathological hatred of supermarkets. However the truth is Stirchley has been in decline for the last 20 years, not because of supermarkets coming to Stirchley but because small and medium size retail stores have been vacating Stirchley.”

He continued: “Super Stirchley naively thinks that the city council should instead take over this very value piece of private property [the Arvin Mertor site] and build an art gallery and some bike racks. Who do Super Stirchley think will pay for their grand schemes? The City Council’s limited funds are already overstretched as we struggle to maintain existing services in the current difficult economic climate.”

Tom Baker responded that Super-Stirchley does not have a ‘pathological hatred of supermarkets’: “the main thrust of our campaign is that Stirchley does not need three large supermarkets within half a mile of each other. Stirchley already has a large successful Co-op supermarket and Tesco have planning permission for a second. Having a third in such a small area is preposterous and will ensure the final demise of Stirchley high street and render Stirchley village as mere scenery around a supermarket landscape.”

Tom Baker has accused the City Council of focusing too much on city centre flagship projects and in defending Super-Stirchley’s plans said: “Of course the plans are ambitious, and we accept anything so grand is going to be an uphill struggle to find funding for, but the point of the drawings is that they show a real social vision for Stirchley that Birmingham City Council and our elected representatives are sadly lacking. Cllr Dawkins has represented Bournville Ward for 11 years now and under his watch, Stirchley has slipped in to what his colleague Cllr Huxtable describes as “terminal decline”. Ten years ago the council was not broke, and yet Stirchley seems to have conveniently slipped through our councillors fingers.”

UPDATE: Cllr Tim Huxtable responded to our request for a response to the Super-Stirchley plans by saying:

“I am thinking of nominating the [Super-Stirchley] press release (PDF) for the Booker prize for fiction.

There are numerous statements that are misleading at best and inaccurate at worse. The press release does not mention finance at all and does not even try to cost their plans, in terms of buying the land from the private landowner, constructing the buildings and public realm nor attempt to quantify the ongoing revenue costs of staffing, running and maintaining the buildings and maintaining the public space. It is “cloud cuckoo land” economics.

The regeneration of the northern end of Stirchley, rather than Tesco, is what I and my colleagues “have ceaselessly been working towards for the last ten years”

The City Council has made a multi-million pound investment on part of the former Arvin Meritor with the building of Lifford House, where 700 staff are now based, and associated landscaping. I hardly call that leaving a site derelict!

The indoor bowls centre is to be replaced with a purpose built facility within the Selly Oak Constituency.

The new £190million City Council Library of Birmingham will host a large photographic and archive display for the benefit, in a city centre location, of all Birmingham residents.

Over the last two years, the City Council has invested in a town centre manager for Stirchley and Cotteridge to encourage inward investment into these local centres. The City Council TCM has also helped achieved external funding for independent shops to set up.

The new grassroots food and arts scene, while welcome, will not fund the major regeneration proposals included in both supermarket proposals, especially the Tesco application. Many of the derelict proposals at the northern end of Stirchley have not happened because of the Tesco development (but because of normal relocation) and the Tesco proposal will bring these properties back into economic/community use as well as creating new retail units on the development site.

A community orchard has been created already in Hazelwell Park adjacent to the site.”

16 comments on “Stirchley group offer alternative local vision

  1. When will our politicians realise that “planning gain” and “community regeneration” are rarely the outcome of big retail developments and huge supermarkets. What is the outcome is big profits for the big companies and complete run down for local shops.

  2. And another thought – Tories love the idea of Big Society as long as people do as they say. Clearly they are not going to support residents who come with ideas that don’t fit Tory ideology. Sadly predicatable in the end they are as top down as ever.

  3. I listened to Cllr Dawkins on BBC WM this morning and have read his and Tim Huxtable’s responses here.

    I have seen them in action at residents meetings, talked to them and been impressed at their involvement in the local community and area.

    But as a long-time Stirchley resident (29 years) I feel betrayed by their lack of vision for B30 and their lack of support for their fellow residents on this subject.

    The idea of Stirchley supporting three supermarkets is frankly insane. There shouldn’t even be a conversation beyond that. Asda’s bid should not even be entertained and the fact that it is and I find the fact that our councillors are seeking partnerships with them to be utterly depressing.

    Maybe alternative visions are naive but I hate that our elected reps are stomping on the visions of those who are also pro-active in Stirchley rather than working together with them instead.

    I hate that they think it is a win for the high street to build a second let alone a third supermarket.

    And I hate that they aren’t trying harder to find alternatives or to push back more against such ridiculous bids – as we all wish the Government had done with Kraft’s takeover of Cadbury’s. What is that land worth to Asda, for example? Is it worth them paying for new leisure facilities or a swimming pool? Aren’t there corporate social responsibility tickboxes that will give them financial and other benefits?

    Yes, finances are impossible right now. But please dont sell Stirchley out on our behalf – because that is what I feel is happening after listening to councillor reactions.

  4. This opposition on here wouldnt be backed or have anything to do ‘ with ‘Caring not sharing Co-op supermarket ‘just down the rd which has had a monopoly on local trade charging extorsion rates for its food for more than decade most of which are local pensioners unable to use or get about on public transport .

    If ever an area has needed boost for the ecomony and rival shopping market offering competetive food prices surley it has to be stirchley .

    And no amount of opposition involving staff or directors or employess of the greedy co-op is gonna stop this .

  5. Hi Barge,

    Just to clarify, Super-Stirchley has absolutely nothing to do with the Co-op. I helped set the group up and I rarely shop there as it just isn’t very good. As far as i know no-one that has been to any of our meetings so far has any vested interest in the Co-op.

    I can see the benefit of a different kind of local supermarket to pensioners and others as you mention, but this is exactly what we are getting with Tesco. Why would we need an ASDA as well, this is the thrust of the Super-Stirchley campaign – that three supermarkets in such a small area is unnecessary and the disadvantages to local businesses, traffic, and the local environment far outweigh the benefits of having three.

    I hope that has cleared it up for you,


  6. I am glad Cllr Huxtable holds my writing in such high esteem, perhaps our press releases could go up against his newsletter for this prize – no wait, they probably wouldn’t accept anything written in comic sans…

    The point of this press release, as both Councillors have spectacularly failed to grasp, is that part of the reason Stirchley has been in decline, is because it has been allowed to become that way through the slow removal of services and destinations, increase in derelict sites going unused, and a lack of lateral thinking by those in power. Cllr Dawkins blames small and medium retail stores vacating Stirchley as the cause of it’s decline – this is the CONSEQUENCE Cllr, you ought to be asking what has CAUSED the shops to vacate Stirchley, then you’ll get a little closer to the point of this press release. Then, you might start thinking of things you could have done, and could be doing to save Stirchley high street rather than ushering in multinational corporations to bang the last nail into the coffin. Things like restoring swimming provision to Stirchley, campaigning to bring back a post office, improving barmy parking regulations on the high street that put off would be customers, petitioning a local landowner (e.g. TESCO) for a meanwhile lease to create a shoppers car park, sourcing grant funding for shop-front improvements, et cetera et cetera.

    You’re right that the Town Centre Manager has been an asset to the area but please don’t claim to have provided the funding for that, it came from the Working Neighbourhoods Fund. If everyone at BCC worked as hard and cared as much as Matt Powell, we might actually be getting somewhere.


  7. Personally I woould rather have an asda than a tesco and Im not really impressed by the way the current plans seem to cut the coop off although I am no fan of that supermarket

  8. stirchley baths is too small & not fit for purpose same as Moseley if people insist on it being preserved turn it into a community hall or market where craft fairs etc can be held & get supermarkets to contribute towards it & share some their huge profits with the community.

  9. Swimming bath suggestion is a great one – HOWEVER – It will not be affordable to the people in the surrounding area so it would be pointless – its the reason why we are rubbish at tennis – charging the earth to play on courts across Birmingham stifling real raw talent – forget it – Asda is a no brainer – bring some life back in to that dull stirchley village

  10. 1) We are blessed with Post offices around Stirchley
    One on Dog Pool/Poo Lane, one in Cotteridge and one in Kings Heath.
    It was not the concil that closed anyother Post Offices, that was POCL (Post Office Counters Ltd) under the last Goverment.
    2) If you dont want a Tesco/Asda etc. then dont shop there, if there is no customer the shops will shut as the major chains are profit driven (no profit from a branch the branch will shut). So let the market decide which supermarkets grow and which one closes.
    3) If we are going to have a swimming baths in Birmingham it needs to be 50 m (160 ft) in length by 25 m (82 ft)wide so that any up and comming swimmer can train in a proper sized pool
    4)err. thats it

  11. The only reason that the awful Co op is successful is because it holds a captive audience. It has no competition so obviously people who dont drive have no other spermarket to shop at.
    Also the Co op is very expensive & it thinks that having hand made candles & a shoe bar is more important than a pharmacy or opticians.Children have become adults in the time its taken for other supermarkets to come to the area.
    Stirchley High St is nothing to be proud of. Its a dump.The Co op is not “Good with Food”, I have bought bad meat which made me vomit, off cheeses & partially defrosted frozen chicken from this retailer. I have lived in Stirchley for 15 years & have never used a trolley in this store as I could not afford to do a full shop there.
    Theres somthing rotton about this regeneration blocking & someone, somewhere knows why.
    Bring back Nigel Dawkins,hes our only hope.