Proposed battery storage unit in Chapel Lane – are you prepared to sacrifice this GREEN BELT site?

Site of proposed battery farm on Chapel Lane

Anesco has submitted a planning application for a huge commercial development, of 28 huge battery storage containers, substations, solar panels and related equipment situated in the 5-acre field adjacent to the ancient Duckery and St. Margaret’s Churchyard in Great Barr.

This major development will be an eyesore in the heart of the green belt and conservation area, and will destroy the nature, character, setting and amenities that exist within this precious rural area. This site is an important area of green belt, part of the Beacon Way and if approved may set a precedent in the future for commercial developments in nearby fields. 

Your views matter and this is your last chance to object!

There is still time for you and everyone in your household to object to this application.

The application can be found here on the Walsall planning website, the planning application number is: 21/1720.

Your Comments must be in writing by email to: planningservices@walsall.gov.uk FAO Sally Wagstaff or by post to Development Management, The Civic Centre, Zone 2B, Darwall St, WS1 1DG.

If you need some help, please use our template objection letter below, which contains reasons to object:

Site location on Chapel Lane

Great Barr Hall and Parkland planning application unanimously refused by Walsall Planning committee

This evening (Thursday 10 February 2022) saw Walsall Planning Committee unanimously refuse the planning application 13/1567/FL for the listed Great Barr Hall and registered parklands.

Beacon Action Group’s Chair and the Rev Martin Rutter spoke at the meeting in support of the application being refused and answered questions posed by committee members. Valerie Vaz MP (Walsall South) also lodged her support for the application to be refused and this was noted in the presentation by the planning officer .

The planning case officer recommended the applications refusal and you can read the full details of the report here. You can view the application details here.

If you want to watch the planning committee session you can view it on this link: www.youtube.com/user/WalsallCouncil

The greenbelt remains protected for now, thanks to the support and views of local residents.

Great Barr Hall planning application to be determined at council planning meeting (10 February 2022)

After 8 years of gathering dust the planning application 13/1567/FL for the listed Great Barr Hall and registered parklands will go before the planning committee for decision tomorrow (10 February 2022) at 5.30pm, you can watch the proceedings live:

www.youtube.com/user/WalsallCouncil

The planning case officer has recommended the applications refusal you can read the full report here. You can view the application details here. We now wait to hear the fate of our greenbelt.

The story has also been picked up by Birmingham Mail and the Express and Star.

A reminder of the story so far:

  • There were 200 individual letters of objection during the consultation period – these are retained in the planning files.
  • Since being sold way back in 1978 Great Barr Hall and listed parkland has been purchased by speculative owners who have negated their responsibility to protect the hall and exploit the green belt to build luxury properties for themselves.
  • The current owners have done absolutely nothing to protect the fabric of the building and just let Great Barr Hall fall further into dereliction since purchasing it in 2010.
  • The continuing decay of the hall throughout the last 12 years resulted in English Heritage downgrading the hall in 2016 giving the listed parkland (greenbelt), which is mostly intact and far more important, a priority in determining all planning applications.
  • This application is another attempt to use the hall as a vehicle to gain several million-pound homes for the owners at the expense of the listed parkland and sacrifice of the green belt without any amenities for the residents and the general public.
  • This application is not about saving and restoring Great Barr Hall, it’s about building 57 new dwellings in the Green Belt and only after these are occupied/sold, can the construction of a copy of Great Barr Hall begin, only it’s three times the size of the original for use as a commercial wedding venue.
  • The cost of this enterprise was estimated some years ago to be somewhere between 16 and 20 million pounds, the owners hoped this huge sum would be paid for in part by enabling development. But English Heritage have clearly stated this is not possible.
  • To put this into perspective Lapworth Architects produced a timetable for development of the new wedding venue, work on this would not be commenced for at least five years following the new housing development and the new hall was only likely to be completed in 10 years. If at all. 
  • It is important to remember this very unusual situation whereby this application, validated by the planning team in 2013, has subsequently been gathering dust for over 8 years since then. Throughout the entire period, despite being given every opportunity to do so, Lapworth Architects have not been able to provide any information that satisfies the important questions raised by Historic England and the Local Authority. This remains to be the situation today.
  • The case officer’s lengthy report identifies the reasons why this application cannot be supported and has to be refused. They are not alone; Sandwell council strongly objects to this application along with many other statutory consultees and organisations. The report gives absolute clear guidance and scrutinises every aspect of this application and most importantly those issues which conflict with the requirements for building in the green belt.
  • The evidence provided by the case officers report together with that from Historic England and others during these last 8 years provides the legal framework for this application to be rejected. There are no very special circumstances: Enabling development is not supported, there are no material planning considerations.
  • The report is clear, “Given that there are no material planning considerations in support of the proposals it is concluded that this application should be recommended for refusal”.    

Proposed Battery Storage Unit in Chapel Lane, Great Barr

Planning application number: 21/1720

Anesco has submitted a planning application for a huge commercial development. This comprises of 28 huge battery storage containers, substations, solar panels and related equipment situated in the 5 acre field adjacent to the ancient Duckery and St Margaret’s Churchyard. This major development will be in the heart of the Green Belt, and will destroy the nature, character, setting and amenities that exist within this precious rural area.

The site is in a designated Conservation Area, a very important area of green belt, part of the Beacon Way, separating Walsall, Sandwell and Birmingham. If this is approved it may set a precedent for other commercial developments nearby.

The application can be viewed on the Walsall planning website by using the planning application number: 21/1720. Comments may be sent by email to planningservices@walsall.gov.uk


Planning application submitted for work to Lower Lake

A major planning application was submitted to Walsall Council by BCG lakes on 24 July 2017,  for works to the scenic lower lake (which is a 58,000 cubic metre reservoir) at Great Barr Hall this to comply with The Reservoirs Act 2010  which is a mandatory requirement. The work followed enforcement notices issued by The Environment Agency.

Application Number 17/0975
GREAT BARR HALL LAKES, GREAT BARR HALL ESTATE, SUTTONS DRIVE, GREAT BARR

Proposed works to the lower lake at Great Barr Hall including raising the existing dam and adding new spillway and discharge structure with connecting pipes designed to control water flow in accordance with the requirements of a 1 in 10000 rainfall/flood event.

The work involves removal of trees, major earthworks and construction works.
The consultation period ends on 14 August 2017.

Historic England refuse Great Barr Hall planning application

 

It is not widely known but Historic England submitted a further response to Walsall Council on 29 November 2016, about the Great Barr Hall and parkland planning application. The letter strongly recommends that the application is refused, some of Historic England’s key statements in their letter have been highlighted below:

“The amount of proposed development, put forward as an enabling development, is very substantial and will cause serious harm to the registered landscape and serious harm to the listed building. Having reviewed the information submitted in support of the application Historic England is not convinced that it demonstrates that the proposed enabling development is the minimum necessary or secures the future of the heritage assets.

 “The recent regrading of the hall from Grade ll* to Grade ll prompts a re-evaluation of the relative significance of the hall and the landscape putting them on a par with each other and placing more emphasis on the latter as the setting for the former.”

The importance of this re-evaluation that the Hall and Parkland on now on a par with each other, in fact places more emphasis on the Parkland as a setting for the Hall, thus making justification for enabling development (the building of houses on the greenbelt to fund the restoration of the hall) more difficult.

 “The amount of development is very substantial and while the proposal has the potential to conserve some aspect of the heritage assets, stage one will cause very serious harm to the registered landscape and serious harm to the Grade ll listed hall and stage two will cause further harm to the hall.”

You can view a full copy of Historic England’s letter here. It’s definitely worth a read as it sets out Historic England’s comprehensive view on the whole application. We now wait and see what will happen next in relation to this planning application, as it still rests with the Planning Team at Walsall Council who have been attempting to deal with it since 2012.

Historic England degrades Great Barr Hall

The Department for Media Culture and Sport has recently publicised their agreement to Historic England’s recommendation (made some months ago) to downgrade the listed status of Great Barr Hall to Grade II. This was due to the continuing and rapid deterioration of the building.

The revised listing means that the Hall loses its star bringing it to the same level as the Historic Parkland, which is also listed and considered to be more important, due to it being intact and environmentally sensitive.

Click here to read the press release from Valerie Vaz  Member of Parliament for Walsall South.

Great Barr Hall planning application back out again for consultation – March 2016

The application is back out again for consultation following a nearly two-year wait for Lapworth Architects to respond to the additional information requested by Walsall planning office. Some of your who objected initially should receive a letter from Walsall Council notifying you that the consultation period has now commenced again.

We’ll be in touch very soon with more information and details of what you need to do to send in a further objection. There are literally hundreds of extra pages of the application that need to be looked through, so please bear with us.

Thank you for your continued support.

Great Barr Hall Planning application still hasn’t gone away

Great Barr Hall newsletterThings might seem quiet on the Great Barr Hall Planning application front, but unfortunately the planning application is still live and has therefore not been withdrawn.   You may recall this planning application included the construction of 59 new dwellings to fund the reconstruction of an enlarged Great Barr Hall, into a 650 seated wedding and conference centre, all within the registered Historic Parkland and Green Belt. The rear of 38 of these new houses were positioned close to the wall along Chapel Lane and partially screened by a six foot boundary wall that was to enclose a gated community.

You’ll be pleased to learn that we keep a watchful eye on any progress and regularly contact the Planning Team at Walsall Council, to get an update on whether they have received a response from Lapworth Architects or the owners of the site, to the letter the council sent to them way back in April 2014, requesting a considerable amount of additional information. Walsall Council recently confirmed, that the situation remains the same in that the architect has not responded and forwarded any of the relevant information to them, furthermore, some of the specialist reports are now out of date. We will continue to monitor the progress of the application and update the information on a regular basis.

If you do have any questions please do get in touch via our email address: beaconactiongroup@gmail.com

Local church collates fading memories of Great Barr Hall and Parkland site

We recently spotted an article by Reverend Martin Rutter in St Margaret’s Church Parish magazine that we thought was worth sharing with you.

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Rev Martin Rutter said:

“The one that thing struck me about last year’s planning application concerning Great Barr Hall and Parkland was the new owners’ insistence that the land was private and that no one else had a right to be there. They threw off the dog walkers and also upset so many in the local community. Of course, at one level, they were correct but they failed to consider the long associations held by many different people, in many different ways concerning the hospital and the church’s involvement there. Many people, by permission, visited, worked, set up groups for the residents and welcomed them to church.

“Memories fade, but before they are lost, could I invite anyone with an interest or memories to share to get in touch with the Parish Office so that we can collate these things and celebrate or lament this phase in the life of Great Barr.”

If you have a memory to share please contact contact Rev Rutter, you can call the parish office on: 0121 357 1390, or email to: gtbarr@btconnect.com