Planning application: North Worcestershire Golf Club housing development, Northfield

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Developers have submitted a planning application to Birmingham City Council for the redevelopment of the now closed North Worcestershire Golf Club in Northfield.

The history

The club, which has been at the Hanging Lane site for over 100 years, had been suffering financial difficulties for several years.

It had been the target of housing developers for a number of years, with rumours about potential sale in 2012 and 2013. At that time, the board were adamant there were no plans to sell.

In 2012, the site was identified as a potential development site in Birmingham City Council’s Core Strategy Plan (precursor to Birmingham Development Plan), but was rejected following a public consultation. That decision was confirmed and approved by a government housing inspector in April this year.

However, in April 2014 – despite claiming to have resisted the previous approaches of developers and made every effort to increase revenue to support the £350,000 a year needed to keep the club open – the club chairman, Roger Adams, publicly announced that shareholders had made the decision that they “had no option but to sell”. A preliminary deal had been entered into with Bloor Homes to redevelop the land.

Many local residents were concerned by the potential sale and 448 people signed a petition against the threat in less than 24 hours.

Since then, Bloor Homes have presented their plans for public consultation, at meetings locally and online.

The club finally closed it’s doors last month and its contents have already been auctioned.

The application

Harris Lamb Property Consultancy, on behalf of Bloor Homes, have now formally submitted an outline planning application to Birmingham City Council for approval. In light of the status of the site in the Birmingham Development Plan, developers will need to present a very strong case to the planning committee for plans to be accepted.

The planning application requests permission to demolish the club house and includes proposals for:

  • Up to 1,000 homes – 1 and 2 bedroom apartments and 2,3,4 and 5 bed houses.
  • A primary school – developers state that: “Birmingham City Council have requested the land is made available for the development of a school on site to meet local requirements. A two form entry school will not only cater for the children living on the proposed development but also for the wider area generally.”
  • Four points of vehicular access – three for the residential section of the site and a dedicated school access.
  • Public open space including a 3G sports pitch, children’s play areas and an Eco park. The developers claim this will benefit local residents, who presently can’t access the green space as it is private land.
  • A multi-use community hub building. Potential uses identified by developers:
    • Church: New base for St Bartholomew’s Church. The Allens Cross church suffered a devastating arson in 1998 and was demolished in 2006. The congregation currently meet at Holloway Hall.
    • GP surgery: Discussions are ongoing with a GP about opening a practice on the site
    • Community centre: for mixed use
    • Changing facilities: for the sports pitch

As part of the application, developers state that the development will help: “to address the Council’s significant five year housing land supply shortfall.”

Supporting documents state: “The proposed development will deliver much needed market and affordable houses in the short term and will reduce the requirement for Green Belt land release required to meet the city’s housing requirement.”

Opposition

Over the years local politicians from all parties have expressed their opposition to the development of the NWGC site.

Today, Richard Burden, MP for Northfield, urged residents to make their views known. He said: “It’s important to remember that what has happened this week is the submission of a Planning Application by Bloor Homes. That is not the same as that application being approved.

“Birmingham City Council’s current Planning framework precludes building on the Golf Course and the Government’s own planning inspectorate recently confirmed that they had seen no evidence that would justify a change in that policy. There has been widespread opposition to this redevelopment in the local area over the years and I urge all local residents to write to the City Council expressing their views.”

Councillor Andy Cartwright (Lab, Longbridge) said: “Myself and Councillor Carole Griffiths have today received the planning application for the NWGC. We are urging local residents to get a copy of the application and put forward objections. This is not wanted in our ward and two very large attended meetings showed that you, the residents, are against it.

Developers’ view

Developers, however, believe that there is no reason why the plans should not be given serious consideration by Birmingham City Council.

Duncan Mackay, land director at Bloor Homes, said: “The planning application for redevelopment of North Worcestershire Golf club was submitted following significant public consultation. This found there was a balance of views both for and against our proposals.

“Whilst the site was not allocated in the emerging Birmingham development plan, the only reason the Inspector did not include it was in the absence of detailed analysis of the impact of traffic from the development on the local road network or on local residents’ amenity. This work has now been completed and therefore there is no reason why the application could not be determined positively.

“Birmingham City Council has a significant housing need which it can’t meet. This is a sustainable development site which would make a significant contribution to the delivery of new homes on a highly deliverable site, within the urban area with excellent access to schools, employment and local infrastructure taking pressure off the need to deliver on Green Belt land.”

Are you for or against the development? Have your views changed since the golf club has now closed? 

Have your say

You can view the application in full and submit your comments, for or against:

Where: on the Birmingham City Council Planning Online website.

What: The application number is 2016/02717/PA 

When: Comments must be received by 23rd June 2016 to be considered.

If you wish to attend and speak to the Planning Committee meeting, call Planning Direct on 0121 303 1115 for a leaflet which explains this process or visit www.birmingham.gov.uk/planningspeakers

1 COMMENT

  1. Yet another green space going. Why is it not developed into a park for people to enjoy?
    New Zealand is a wonderful place, their towns have beautiful parks for people to relax in and enjoy. Too many people invited to live here instead of just visiting. Yes, we need more homes now, but should be looking to the future and having to build less homes. I walked these golf courses with my grandfather and brother, cherished memories which others will not be able to have or experience.

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