An unwanted Christmas present arrived for the residents of Chapel Lane, Great Barr just before the Christmas break, when notification of a planning application for the housing development on the Great Barr Hall and parkland site, arrived through people’s doors on Christmas Eve.
The application couldn’t have been submitted at a worse time just before the Christmas festivities when many people are away or spending time with their families. The timing of the application has also caused great concern among residents, as it leaves less time to respond because of the Christmas break.
This wasn’t the first surprise for residents regarding this scheme when a consultation meeting arranged by Lapworth Architects and BCG Lakes at the Holiday Inn, on Saturday 2 November was not circulated to local residents. Fortunately, information about the meeting was provided to local residents by Beacon Action Group who distributed their own flyer suggesting residents should attend the meeting to make their views known.
The planning application includes restoration works to Great Barr Hall and the construction of 57 dwellings, which will be built across the registered historic parkland that surrounds the hall and lakes, (with 38 of which proposed along Chapel Lane/Suttons Drive boundaries).
Despite attending two consultation events, local residents are still lacking full information about the restoration works to the hall, what the public access to the historic parkland and lakes will be, and the full details of the development.
Bob Winkle, Chair of Beacon Action Group, urged people to play a part in the approval process, he explained: “Local residents ought to consider what, if any, benefit they will derive from the re-building of what will be a far grander version of the original Great Barr Hall, especially when its intended use is still uncertain.
“The cost of the hall’s re-build is in the region of £20million and will be mostly funded by the enabling works of the proposed new housing estate.
“Consultation must be open and transparent and involve all local residents, especially those who will be most affected by the development. If you do have a view on this development then it’s your last opportunity to speak up to help minimise the impact to this important piece of green belt land.”
Local residents in Great Barr have serious reservations about the proposed development, as the Hall lies within protected green belt land and a conservation area. Building on this site would result in a loss of the protected green belt and rural character of the area and will potentially cause issues with a substantial increase of traffic caused by the planned 57 new properties.
During the Christmas period, Beacon Action Group was successful in securing an extension to the time in which local residents have to respond to the application. In addition, the group will be organising a public meeting very soon, to enable local residents to voice their concerns and learn about the facts of the application in enough time to respond in full with their own view.
If you would like to find out more, or be emailed the date of the public meeting you can follow Beacon Action Group on twitter:@beaconactiongrp or check out the Facebook group Beacon Action Group, or send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or you can access the application online: www.walsall.gov.uk/planning