Harvest Partnership — a joint venture between Land Securities and Sainsbury’s — has filed two planning applications for what is claimed to by Birmingham’s longest-stalled regeneration project.
Work finally started last autumn to decontaminate the city’s 30-acre Battery Park area which once housed an iron foundry, gas works and commercial and domestic refuse tips. At the same time a team of archaeologists began a 20-month project to unearth the site’s industrial history.
Now, almost 14 years after regeneration plans were first mooted, Birmingham City Council has received two submissions for the Selly Oak brownfield site, off Aston Webb Boulevard and repeatedly described by planners as a “desperate eyesore”.
One application is for a two-storey, 16,000 sq ft food or retail store. The second, covering almost 17 acres, is for a Sainsbury’s superstore with 42,000 sq ft of sales space, nine other retail units, a petrol station and a 424-room student accommodation block. There will also be significant landscaping.
The retail and food store elements of the scheme have been designed by Hampshire-based Piper Whitlock Architecture, with the local practice of Glenn Howells Architects designing the student accommodation.
In a statement Harvest Partnership claims the completed development will create around 2,700 much needed jobs, adding: “With 18,000 people registered unemployed in south-west Birmingham, this scheme will provide a huge economic boost to the area, offering a wide range of employment opportunities … a wide range of quality shops and places to eat and drink, making Selly Oak a destination of choice for people from across the area.”
The twin applications do not include a state-of-the-art, world class Life Sciences Campus that will lead the city’s medical research and complement the nearby Queen Elizabeth Hospital and the University of Birmingham. A planning submission is expected for that scheme late this year or early next.
In 2013 Harvest fought a two-month planning battle over its plans for the restoration of the nearby Lapal Canal. It eventually agreed to add an extra £767,000 to its £4.4m spend on the canalside upgrade.
It later stated: “The Worcester and Birmingham Canal is a key feature of the proposals, with a new piazza-style square featuring a high-quality pub and restaurant.
“A new bridge over the canal will provide improved access for pedestrians and cyclists and a direct link between the new shops and Selly Oak centre.
“A greenway will complete this route across the southern end of the site providing a direct link between Selly Oak centre and Selly Oak Park,” adding that the route will be “legally protected” for the possible future addition of a canal link.
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