A bohemian Birmingham suburb needs to be ‘more like Brighton than Bournville’, it has been claimed, as a wrangle ensues over its future.
Critics of a vision for Moseley, laid out in the Moseley Supplementary Planning Document (SPD), claim it focuses too much on policing and conservation rather than rejuvenating its daytime economy.
The draft SPD, on which consultation closed on July 21, sets out planning policies and aims to attract investment to the ‘village’. It also stresses a desire to see Moseley “continue to prosper as a creative and enterprising urban neighbourhood”.
But opposition to the document, prepared by Moseley Community Development Trust (CDT) and Birmingham City Council, is being spearheaded by landlord of Moseley’s Prince of Wales pub, Keith Marsden.
Mr Marsden launched a petition calling for the draft plan to be rejected, which has been signed by more than 300 people so far.
Many businesses have signed up, too, displaying ‘We love Moseley’ posters opposing the SPD in their windows.
“It’s nothing new. This has been going on for the last ten years,” said Mr Marsden.
“We have a fantastic nighttime economy – it is one of the best places to go – not just in the city but across the West Midlands.
“But in the daytime it’s not that great a place and there’s not a lot going on, and consequently a lot of busineses in the village are suffering.
“What we need to do is to get that daytime economy going and the SPD is a real opportunity to rejuvenate it. It should be a catalyst to get things going but it’s not doing that.”
While commending organisations like the Moseley Society, Moseley CDT, Moseley Regeneration Group and Moseley Neighbourhood Forum, Mr Marsden believes these established groups have too narrow an agenda.
“They did a great job going back 25 years in improving Moseley and have done a fantastic job in conservation but Moseley has suffered from a lack of leadership and progressive thinking to take the centre forward.
“We need the village centre to have a bit of life in it and this is not focused enough or strong enough. It’s more about policing and control rather than enabling. We want something to be a bit more encouraging, rather than saying you can’t do this and you can’t do that.
“It’s about what you want Moseley to look like in 20 years time and there are a lot of people, like me, who want Moseley to be a lot more like Brighton and a bit less like Bournville.” Mr Marsden said he believed Moseley could also create a destination that combined healthy day and night economies.
He added: “Brighton has a lot going on and we need to work on achieving something like that, not concentrating on conservation.
“It has lots of bars, cafes and restaurants, like Moseley, but also has a great way of preserving its heritage and listed buildings.
“There’s a lot of tourism but it’s also a great place to live and there are lots of independent traders.”
Given Moseley’s heritage, Mr Marsden said he believed more could be done to capitalise on it.
“It could do more with Tolkien and we need a hotel,” he said. “Some of the sites here could pull a lot of visitors in and it could become somewhere people from across the region would visit during the day.”
Moseley’s bohemian tag is also an asset, though Mr Marsden believes it runs the risk of losing that if the current trend continues.
“It has a reputation for being an artistic, bohemian place but a lot of that is looking through rose-tinted spectacles,” he said.
“People talk about Oasis and Ocean Colour Scene playing there but a lot of it is historical and a lot of music venues have been snuffed out. We need to keep the bohemian element real and happening now. It has faded a little bit and we need to get back in there. The folk and jazz festivals have carried it forward but we need to beef it up.”
The draft SPD says its aims are to ensure residents’ visions for Moseley are realised, the neighbourhood character is preserved and enhanced, that developers, investors, businesses and others understand local priorities and that Moseley does its bit to help tackle climate change.
A spokesman for Moseley Community Development Trust said that, although the organisation had taken a lead in the creation of the Moseley SPD, the consultation process was now being overseen by the city council and the organisation did not wish to comment further.