The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government has today said he will allow developers to build up to 800 homes on a former Northfield golf course, after proposals were turned down by Birmingham City Council.

The announcement means that Bloor Homes can build their propose development of 800 homes, a primary school and a multi-use community hub on the site of the former North Worcestershire Golf Club in Hanging Lane.

Initial refusal

Following years of speculation, rumours, consultations, withdrawn proposals and petitions, BCC’s planning committee decided to turn down Bloor Homes’ controversial plans to build 950 homes on the land belonging to the former North Worcestershire Golf Club (NWGC) on Hanging Lane in August 2017.

The main reasons cited for refusal were:

  1. The site was ruled out for housing development in January 2017 when the government’s chief planning officer accepted the Birmingham Development Plan.
  2. Concerns remain about ecology & landscaping.

Appeal and amendments

In February this year, Bloor appealed to the government’s Planning Inspectorate to overturn the council’s decision.

This summer, Bloor amended their plans to reduce the number of houses to 800, reducing the developed area and density, improving wildlife corridors and setting frontage back from Frankley Beeches Road.

Birmingham City Council accepted theses amendments on principle. However, city planners expressed that the application would still be refused on the grounds that the development of the golf course land was ruled out by a government inspector when approving the Birmingham Development Plan.

Public inquiry

A public inquiry was held in October 2018 to allow a government planning inspector to gather views before a decision on the appeal could be made by the minister for Housing, Communities and Local Government James Brokenshire MP.

Permission Granted

Following the inquiry, Planning Inspector Paul Singleton recommended to the Secretary of State that, based on the revisions to the plans, the permission be granted.

Today, Wednesday 24th July, the Planning Inspectorate announced that the proposal to build 800 homes on the site has been approved by the Secretary of State.

There are a number of conditions in place, including conditions to protect the habitat and wildlife it supports. Download the full Appeal Decision (pdf)

Reactions

Northfield’s MP Richard Burden (Labour) has expressed concerns regarding the proposals since Bloor Homes began consultation into ideas for redevelopment of the site back in 2014.

Mr Burden said: “This is a very disappointing decision in the light of the very real concerns that exist about the environmental sustainability of a development like this, and about the impact on traffic congestion in the area.

“The first thing Birmingham City Council should now do is to assess whether there are grounds to challenge the decision of the Secretary of State in court.

“Even if they believe that grounds do not exist to challenge the decision as a whole, there are an array of conditions that have to be satisfied before the development can go ahead covering issues ranging from conservation and flood defences to school and community centre provision.

“This story has a long way yet to run.”

Cllr Olly Armstrong

Concerned at communications developers were continuing to make with the government since the Inquiry, Cllr Olly Armstrong (Lab, Northfield) had recently written a letter re-emphasising his opposition to the proposed development. Read letter in full below. 

Reacting to the decision to approve the development, Cllr Armstrong said: “Disappointed and appalled that on the day a new Prime Minister moves into number 10, a housing plan that no one wants, that isn’t eco-friendly or responsive to our climate emergency, and rips up vast swathes of needed trees, greenery and animal habitation is signed off by the government.

“We will continue to fight this on behalf of the residents and the planet.”

Conservative Parliamentary candidate for Northfield is Gary Sambrook, currently serving as councillor for Kingstanding ward.

Mr Sambrook said: “The decision to approve this plan is very disappointing and flies in the face of local residents who have worked so hard to campaign against the over development of the golf course.

“While many people accepted that some development was necessary, 800 homes is far too many and will place a significant burden on local infrastructure such as roads, schools, and the NHS.

“The City Council need to be doing all they can to support local residents to challenge this decision and ensure local residents are listened to.”

Frankley Great Park Councillor Simon Morrall also expressed disappointment in the decision.

He said: “I think this is a bad decision! The application has been rejected cross party by Conservative Councillors and the previous Conservative MP Roger King, who has been one of the most prominent campaigners against this because his house actually backs onto the development.

“So for a Labour Councillor to play party politics with this is extremely disappointing, especially when the Labour City Council were none-existent in opposing the Crematorium at the back of Frankley, which today has been put onto the market for “potential housing”.

“Considering the Labour City Council refused to challenge that, I won’t be holding out for any action here. Meanwhile, Northfield Conservatives will continue to stand up for the residents we serve all year round.”

Meetings

There will be two public emergency meetings with Richard Burden MP and Cllr Olly Armstrong for residents:

• Thurs 25 July 6pm @ Black Horse (upstairs)
• Thurs 1st Aug 6pm @ Allens Cross Community Centre 

Letter from Cllr Armstrong

Dear Ms Nowak,

I write in reply to the recent letters you received from Steve Roberts, regional managing director of Bloor Homes, and John Bloor, of Bloor Homes, in regards to the site of the former North Worcestershire Golf Club in Northfield Birmingham, of which I was emailed a scanned copy.

I would like to add another perspective to this conversation for your consideration.

My city, like an increasing number of of UK and international cities, has this month declared a climate emergency. We face unprecedented climate breakdown.

Now is the only time we have to act. We must respond well, and with intelligence, in all the things we have any power over, to protect our planet’s, our children’s, our own future.

One of the key ways we can respond, and must, if we have any hope of a human future on this planet, is through how we use, nurture, protect and build upon land.

We must of course build homes. We have a housing crisis. But the current plan for this green space is not what is needed. It does nothing to respond to climate breakdown, it cares little for seeking to reach carbon zero as a site, nor does it offer anything but tokenism in light of what so many other large builds are doing across Europe to respond to climate breakdown.

We can do better, our land can be used better, housing planners can do better, for us, for our cities, and for our children’s futures.

Any genuine emergency must shift the way in which we think and act. I hope the climate emergency and the current governments intent to reach carbon net zero by 2050(as well as the increasingly loud call for this target to need to be hit by 2030 or even 2025) shifts our thinking and we see there are far better ways to approach this and other pieces of beautiful green land, with both the needs of the local community and the need to smartly respond to climate breakdown, intertwined in its core.

Ideas such as:

*Re-wilding the land. Creating city or community owned forests, maintained by and for all. *Carbon Zero, low density, eco housing; low impact builds that are green in reality
*Urban green space intervention, as outlined in the WHO report on climate.

Let’s please begin to do something brave and beautiful with our land, planning and homes, lets try and actually save the planet, and rescue humanity and nature alongside it.

Yours, hopefully,
Olly Armstrong

24 COMMENTS

  1. Utterly disappointed and dismayed that this has been approved
    I like many others objected to this application looks like our concerns have been totally ignored all in the interest of profit
    I fear for this area and the future of the people who live in it

    • I recently lived nearby and am glad of the development as it saddens me to see how the site has gone to ruin seeing by vandalism/arson and vermin. Weve never been able to take advantage of the green open space like we can a short distance away at cofton park and waseley hills.
      What was the alternative ? The government buy it with tax payer money for rewilding ?

      • The area was vandalised BECAUSE of these development plans, simply to remove any remaining obstacles.

        Regarding not being able to make use of that open space, clearly it would be much easier to simply plant few trees, erect few benches and actually open it to a public than to build 800 houses and loose that opportunity forever!

        • As nice that vision is, it will also mean the incompetent council having to maintain the area, which means another budget cost.

          Whereas now of course they could stand to make anything between £800,000 to a million pounds per year in council tax revenues once those houses are built.

          I realise the council’s planning committee were against the plans; but the council’s treasury will more than welcome the new revenue source. And these days money trumps almost all other considerations.

  2. I think this is ridiculous,since the development of the area the roads at surgery’s etc can’t cope with the extra people.the roads being the worst.the congestion is terrible.but again somebody is getting richer from it so it doesn’t matter.

  3. All that can be done is to appeal until all avenues have been well and truly closed.

    No doubt a few stuffed brown envelopes have allegedly changed hands twixt vested interests (not mentioning any names, heaven forbid!)

    Oh and that bit of arson to the clubhouse was spectacularly “convenient” too!

    • Arson (to be precise, both of them) were completely random events and had nothing to do with the building development plans

      • Really?

        Such as the 2 arson attacks at the Cock Pub just just up the road a few months previously. Before then property developers wanted to build homes & flats there, but were rejected more than once by the PC. And then along comes the arson attacks, and a few months later another planning submission is made for a care home, and is subsequently approved by the same PC.

        And now we have a very similar scenario here- coincidence?

        • ‘irony’ /ˈʌɪrəni/ noun
          the expression of one’s meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect.
          ;)

  4. I am truly happy that this decision has been made. I believe this underutilized area will now be available for myself and others to enjoy, I am particularly happy about the news that both a primary school and community centre will be provided for us.

  5. Don’t people understand we need more homes not unused land there is so much Waist land that homes could be built on but as long as you have a home who cares yer

  6. This land should have been given to the people of Northfield as parkland and to use the space for activities to keep the the children and youths occupied and somewhere they can go to somewhere to go for recreation. Just hope the developers make sure no flooding eill occur with all that brick paving stones and tarmac like the mistake made at great park when houses flooded down at mill lane

  7. Excellent news, I’m a very local resident, and I’ve been hoping for this since I 1st heard the proposal. Happy the council did not listen to the grumpy few moaners who obviously do not speak for everyone but sometimes think they do.

  8. Everybody’s lovely home when built was somebody’s else’s inconvenience.
    Birmingham city council bought Kings Norton golf course in early 1970’s and turned it into a big council estate…what’s the difference ?
    Houses are urgently needed and if not developed what happens to the land…the council for sure would not buy it

  9. Councillor Simon Morrall, who seems to have worked extremely hard on this issue to try to help the local residents, pointed out that no representatives of Birmingham’s Labour Council nor any individual local Labour politicians were present at the latest and final inquiry into this development.

    The Labour Councillor for Northfield, Oliver Armstrong, now seems to have developed a great concern about the issue. Why then did he not attend the public inquiry and make his points then when he might have been of some use? He seems to be a man who likes to protest a lot about everything but when it comes to being useful in a practical way his energy seems to be burnt up constantly Twittering.

    Councillor Armstrong, as you say that you are so concerned why did you not attend the inquiry?

    • hi graham. ive been involved in this campaign for almost a decade(ive only been cllr for northfield just over a year) I attended most of the days at the inquiry and i testified at length.please see the court records to find my name marked as present and my testimony on file.

      I attended the walk around the golf course with the inspector. please see my facebook and twitter photos to see myself and Roger King walking around the area and offering our local knowledge and concerns.

      Also Dr Knight, I saw you a few days ago on northfield high street where we shook hands and had a brief chat about the weather. Its a bit of a shame you didn’t raise these questions then isn’t it. maybe next time ? :)

      Olly

  10. isn’t Councillor Simon Morrall from the same Conservative party as the minister for Housing, Communities and Local Government James Brokenshire MP ?

    The same Conservative party that’s in government.and just rubber stamped this project despite and against Birmingham council’s objection’s. ?.

    I don’t suppose Councillor Morrall also happened to point out that the Conservative party,(the party he represent’s) received a donation of over £400,000 just before the 2017 General Election,from a Mr john Bloor of Bloor homes?
    https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/general-election-2017-millionaire-donors-13085732

    No? Or that between 12th Feb 2001 to 8th June 2017 the party he represent’s,received £1,030,000.00 in donations from a J.S. Bloor (Services) Ltd ?
    https://endpropaganda.wordpress.com/?s=BLOOR+&submit=

    do you wanna guess who’s property tycoon’s company that is?
    https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/search?q=j.s+bloor

    In time and money just how long and much do you and Councillor Morrall expect your local council to spend fighting against the deep pockets of Conservative party donor’s for?

    what do you think the chance’s of a Conservative government overturning their own judgement and going against one of their own donors is?

  11. who’ll be running the primary school and multi-use community centre?

    what’s the chances on those not making it past the revisions and reworking of the planning applications,and onto the finished scheme?

  12. The comments about Councillor Armstrong are wholly incorrect: some residents, including myself and Roger King, former MP, attended most days of the enquiry in October 2018, to represent the community, as ‘interested parties’. Olly Armstrong was also in attendance some days, subject to other commitments, and his evidence can be viewed on page 45 of the Inspector’s report. Councillor Simon Morrall, to my recollection, did not appear at the enquiry to present any evidence and I cannot trace any reference to him by the Inspector.
    Next?

    • You are of course quite right. Councillor Morrall was the only Councillor to attend the Waseley Hill Crematorium inquiry and there were no Labour councillors there. Councillor Morrall pointed out the absence of Labour councillors at that inquiry and of course made no comment on attendees at the The North Worcestershire Golf Club housing development inquiry. Two big, important local inquiries and I confused who was at which. Sorry!

      • indeed. There are no labour cllrs covering frankley area and so none to go to the crematorium meeting, but in retrospect, as a cllr who covers northfield ward, which borders frankley on one edge, i wish id gone to support the local area in this matter, as i think its important.I am sorry i didnt and shall apologise to residents and local labour members. Fair play to simon for turning up at it. We missed him at the golf course enquiry of course, which is in his ward, but you cant make everything! its a busy time for cllrs, with so many people destitute and broken through tory policy such as the horrific universal credit systems we have to pick and choose what we turn up at, so as to have time to support vulnerable residents x

  13. A primary school will be built but there are already too many pupils for the secondary schools in the area, not enough doctors, dentists, beds st the hospitals, congestion on local roads are already a joke. The main road which is Frankley Beeches Road is a nightmare ant time of day with the ambulance Centre coming onto this road where now there is not enough space to move over for blue lights. The junction of Northfield and Longbridge where both roads would come out are a joke now 800 homes on average a family of 4 with at least 2 cars per house what a mess!!!

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