I reported in a news item on 6 April 2012 that Sainsburys had revised plans for their development by the Worcester and Birmingham canal in Selly Oak, Birmingham. This was to reroute a section of the unused Lapal Canal to pass through the centre of the site to the boundary of Selly Oak.

Pressure from local people and the Lapal Canal Trust had a lot to do with this. Lapal Canal Trust is working towards restoring the Harborne Wharf.

Well… in spite of this extensive display of public opinion and a subsequent revised planning application they appear to have gone back and put on public display plans which remove the canal!

Their second planning application in March 2012 below shows the canal situation – the canal can be seen running vertically downwards from the main canal about 2/3rds across from the left (click on image to enlarge)……

Sainsburys Siteplan Second Planning Application

But Planning Committee chiefs thought that it “skewed too far in favour of retail’’.

A particular sticking point was the lack of land or development space set aside for high-technology industry or scientific research, the development of which has been a long term aim for the area under the A38 Corridor Strategy.

Their new plans have radically changed the layout and content of the site and much more is devoted to  Life Sciences Research facilities comprising offices and laboratories set around a landscaped communal courtyard, providing jobs for up to 2,000 people.

In their Selly Oak regeneration website, Sainsbury’s in partnership with developers Land Securities say:

“The campus will enhance the world-renowned research and development offer provided by the University Hospital Trust at the QE Hospital and the University, bringing new commercial benefits to Selly Oak and an economic boost to the City.”

This is all very commendable but in addition accommodation has been included for 400 students – a very lucrative (and not entirely unselfish) investment bringing in vast income from students, as seen in many areas of Birmingham now in close proximity to the university campi!

BUT….as can be seen below and the canal extension has vanished! And no explanation of why has been published.

This very effectively scuppers plans for the next 25 years of recreating the Lapal Canal connection with the W&B Canal.

This has infuriated the Lapal Canal Trust, local inhabitants and local Councillors some of whom were officials in the Planning Comittee when the 7 March 2012 Planning Application was submitted.

Worthy of note is that the Birmingham City Council has spent a lot of money on a road bridge for the recently redirected Harborne Lane to pass over the canal extension (see plan above).

Sainsburys siteplan third planiing application

Reproduced from the Selly Oak regeneration website

You can read more of the regeneration of Selly Oak plans of Sainsbury’s and their partner Land Securities.

I hope they will reconsider this and provide facilities that people want in parallel with economic viability. Surely the canal must be allowed to pass through the site otherwise it will knock on the head plans for its restoration  for the next 25 years!

If you want to add weight to local wishes to have the canal link reinstated you can by filling in the email form on the Home page of the  Selly Oak regeneration website.