Birmingham City Council recently produced a draft strategic planning document relating to land use in Moseley, and set up a consultation exercise for it. Here’s my response (also sent to BCC) to the question: “Do you have any comment on the vision set out in the draft SPD?”
“I welcome the fact that Birmingham City Council has produced this draft SPD, and arranged a consultation on it. As a Moseley resident for seven years I am deeply concerned at some of the proposals in the document and urge the authors to reconsider, for the benefit of both Moseley and the wider community in Birmingham. Areas that urgently need to be addressed:
– The proposal to ‘resist’ the development of non-retail businesses, e.g. banks, cafes, estate agents if they breach the threshold of 50% class A2 – A5 uses is completely detrimental to village life. There are a large number of empty retail units in Moseley, and the best way to bring shoppers back to the village is to encourage it as a visitor destination… with offerings such as banks, cafes etc. The growth of online retailing means that the ‘traditional’ high street offering is in decline and the Moseley SPD should reflect this.
– The reinstatement of Moseley railway station is absolutely key to improving the economic, environmental and social regeneration of Moseley. This should be the number one priority in the document. Merely ‘supporting’ Centro in this vision is weak – bringing back the train station is what residents want, and need, not just for their convenience and carbon footprint but to reduce the horrific traffic congestion and attendant accident problems in Moseley and other areas (e.g. King’s Heath). This should be an urgent priority for the council, who should be lobbying central government to release the funds to support the building of the Camp Hill chords.
– I agree that development should enhance Moseley’s Victorian/Edwardian character, but too often this isn’t enforced. I would like to see a strengthening of the conservation areas and more listed buildings. Change and development are good things – but let’s keep Moseley’s heritage and architectural integrity intact.
– The document pays lip-service to the idea of sustainable transport; a bolder vision is needed. Recommending that people are encouraged to work from home is not the answer to building a sustainable economic future for Moseley. In addition to a commitment to re-open Moseley Station and the Camp Hill line, there needs to be funding made available to create a new network of cycle paths (alongside the existing railway line perhaps?) to facilitate green transport, and to develop the links that the plan seeks to create between creative businesses in Moseley and Digbeth.
– More public car parks are needed in Moseley – this would help boost footfall to retail areas, as well as reducing parking nuisances for existing residents.
– The draft SPD needs to explicitly recognise the unique artistic and musical heritage of Moseley, and to encourage planning use for businesses such as music venues, music practice rooms/rehearsal studios, artist’s studios, art centres and study spaces for music and the arts. The loss of the Jug of Ale some years ago – once one of the leading small venues on the national touring circuit, and a venue for gigs by Blur, Oasis, Editors etc. – is a huge loss for Moseley and it’s reputation as a cultural/artistic centre.”