The major redevelopment of a former metal manufacturing site is ‘‘skewed too far in favour of retail’’ according to Birmingham’s planning chiefs.
Supermarket giant Sainsbury’s and developer Land Securities, who have together formed the Harvest Partnership, want to transform the former Selly Oak Battery and Metals site with a mixed-use canalside development.
They want to turn the derelict site into a major centre with a superstore, up to 20 shops, bars, restaurants, offices, student flats and hotels.
But following a tour of the site and presentation the planning committee has called for a series of amendments.
The development seems set go ahead and was broadly welcomed by the planning committee.
However a particular sticking point is the lack of land or development space set aside for high-technology industry or scientific research, the development of which has been a long term aim for the area under the A38 Corridor Strategy.
Coun John Clancy (Lab Quinton) said: “They were trying to persuade us this is a retail-led model and I think the projections were extremely optimistic in terms of the economic outlook.
“This is the argument that retail will get us out of the doldrums and lead to investment. But I disagree and believe that technology and industry will lead us out of recession. There is excessive retail here.”
He was backed by Coun Peter Douglas Osborn who added: “This is skewed too far towards retail.”
The plans do suggest a building of up to nine storeys that could be used for either offices or research and development or a secure residential unit – whichever is the most economically viable at the time.
The committee have also called for improvements of the canal side environment, complaining that the proposal for a simple water channel through the site could be better.
Coun Douglas Osborn (Con Weoley) dded: “We are happy they will reinstate the canal, but not enough is being made of it. We have other shopping centres and venues which show how to better exploit a waterfront location.”
The Harvest Partnership has already made improvements to the Lapal Canal Link following consultation with the public.
The development is expected to create about 3,000 jobs for the area and was supported by 38 per cent of visitors to a series of public exhibitions held in March. A further 48 per cent support elements of the scheme.
Project director for Land Securities Neil Carron, said: “The former Battery Park is a strategic and very challenging site. Its former use for industry and landfill has frustrated development for more than fifteen years but it offers a real opportunity for Selly Oak and the wider area to be transformed.
“Therefore, in working up our proposals, we’ve aimed to strike the right balance by creating a high quality urban mixed-use environment that is realistic and deliverable.
“Feedback from the public on these plans has been very positive and we’re continuing to consult widely and engage with key stakeholders and the council.
‘‘If approved, the scheme will transform a derelict industrial and landfill site into a thriving centre, creating 3,000 much-needed jobs and bringing significant community benefits to the area.”
The company will continue negotiations with the planning department before the finalised application is considered by the committee.
If approved, work on the development will begin next year with a view to a 2016 completion date.