The £100 million Sainsbury-led canalside development has been put on hold by councillors over claims that the scheme ‘is not good enough for Birmingham’.
The city council’s planning committee unanimously voted to defer the plan for a Sainsbury's store, a medical sciences business park, shops and students flats on the derelict Battery Park site in Selly Oak.
There were concerns that not enough is being done to help restore the old Lapal Canal, as promised by Sainsbury in previous planning applications, and that the shops are inward looking rather than facing into Selly Oak.
One councillor, John Clancy, also accused Sainsbury of not appearing at the committee with ‘clean hands’ because it has not paid back a city council loan of almost £6 million towards the Selly Oak New Road - which offers easy road access for future customers.
This, the committee was told, is being pursued by senior finance officers.
Coun Clancy (Lab, Quniton) said: “I want to approve this, but I just do not think it is good enough. We needed something much more ambitious and no so dependent on retail. I would rather they withdraw it and have another go.
“They have not come here with clean hands and in that context the development needed to be particularly good.”
Coun James Hutchings (Cons, Edgbaston) added: "A medical science park is so important for the future of this city, but it remains the case that they are not going to restore the canal.
The committee has called on the Harvest Partnership, a joint venture between Sainsbury and Land Securities, to revise its plans.
But Neil Carron of Land Securities said that the scheme was drawn up in answer to council demands for a major medical science park for cutting edge research businesses working with the QE and University of Birmingham.
He said it would create 3,000 jobs for the city.
“We have to work within the realms of what is possible. We will see what we can do,” he said.
He suggested that if the scheme is not approved then a previous development more heavily dominated by shops which already has planning permission could go ahead.
Resident objectors had all stated that they want the store and life sciences park on the derelict industrial site, but that these plans are flawed.
Doctor Andrew Schofield of the Selly Oak Community Partnership wanted a ‘more active frontage on Bristol Road’ while Doctor PEter Best of the Lapal Canal Trust said that canal restoration had improved Droitwich and they could lose a huge opportunity to do the same in Selly Oak.