Birmingham Supermarket Decision Quashed

Local residents are celebrating in Stirchley, Birmingham, following the announcement that Birmingham City Council (BCC) have agreed to quash a controversial planning permission for a Lidl supermarket replacing a much-loved and well-used bowling alley and gym, in response to ELF’s intervention.

When a local resident approached ELF at the end of last year, we had immediate concerns over the decision to allow the redevelopment of the site from its current use as a popular community centre, to be replaced with a supermarket. The planning officer had advised the committee that the bowling alley and gym, in place for generations and used by many local residents, did not fall within local planning policy that protected against the redevelopment of sports facilities.

This states:

“The provision and availability of facilities for people to take part in formal and informal activity, that contributes to healthier lifestyles and can provide a ‘stepping stone’ into more formal sport will be supported and promoted … Sports and physical activity facilities will be protected from development, unless it can be demonstrated that they are surplus to requirements through a robust and up to date assessment of need” (underlining added).

A narrow interpretation was made of ‘sports’ activities and the planning officer stated:

“The current uses – bowling alley and fitness centre –are not classified as ‘sports’ and, as such, policies relating to loss of sporting facilities do not apply.”

With the kind assistance of Lisa Foster at Richard Buxton Solicitors and Daniel Stedman Jones at 39 Essex Chambers, both generous ELF members, ELF sent a pro-action protocol letter to BCC on behalf of the local claimant setting out concerns with the decision. In response, we learnt on 20th March that BCC would agree to quash the planning decision.

One local resident emailed and said:-

“I am gob smacked! I seriously could not believe it when I came across your email tonight along with about a dozen other emails, messages and notifications – basically at a meeting tonight with local Councillors and planning officers they announced their intention to quash the decision!! I wasn’t at the meeting but apparently the whole room erupted with cheers! This is really big news in our local area already following tonight’s public announcement.

We have spread the word via social media of your help in all this asking everyone to donate or become members of ELF (as we did when the letter of intent was sent- but this news now means the message getting shared more widely!)”

Emma Montlake of ELF said:

“I am delighted with this decision. This is a great example of ELF assisting local people to use the law to protect their local environment and an important community asset. It is very pleasing to have been part of overturning this poor decision”.

Read more from the group here – “A Lidl update”.