Dear Editor, Sainsbury’s and Land Securities, have recently announced that they intend to modify plans for their new store at Selly Oak, Birmingham.
The approved planning permission, granted five years ago, includes the full restoration of a section of the derelict Dudley No 2 Canal (Lapal Canal). That imaginative scheme, would herald the kickstart to a much needed lost link in the waterway network.
The new proposal now omits the full canal scheme, which is substituted in the revised plans by a “pedestrian green walkway”. Millions of pounds of public money has recently been spent on the new Selly Oak bypass, which will provide logistical support to the new store. The bypass includes a new canal bridge constructed in readiness for the Lapal Canal/Sainsbury’s scheme.
Taking into account that major public investment and effort, where is the sense and planning gain if the approved Sainsbury’s scheme, including restoration of a strategically important section of canal, is not fully implemented?
Furthermore, the Sainsbury’s scheme cannot be considered in isolation. The restoration of the five-and-a-half-mile derelict canal is of vital importance in terms of leisure, recreation and economic growth, not only to Birmingham but also to neighbouring districts. Indeed it will be a national asset.
British Waterways has predicted there will be a massive 80 per cent increase in visitors when the first mile of the canal is restored. Clearly with restoration of the entire Lapal Canal corridor, major opportunities for sympathetic developments will arise. Sainsbury’s can be considered to be the first. The potential is significant in terms of employment and the economy as well as for leisure and the environment.
The Hales Owen Abbey Trust has fully supported the Lapal Canal Trust’s aim of achieving full restoration since the objective was first mooted in the 1990s.
Neither Sainsbury’s or Birmingham City Council should renege upon the public expectations arising from the original plan.
Roy Burgess, Chairman of the Hales Owen Abbey Trust