Whilst pottering about today, I noticed that the land between the Watermead Estate and Silver Street, near Tesco in Brownhills, had apparently changed hands. I noted last year that Morris Homes - the developers of Shire Oak Close on the former reservoir site at the Southern end of town – had obtained permission to build an estate of 36 homes on the wasteland, formerly set aside for development of retail, entertainment or community facilities.
After planning permission was granted, a whole bunch of nothing happened. Rumours circulated that the development was not to go ahead, and the ‘Coming soon…’ sign faded in the daylight. It seems that in the meantime, the site has been sold to Taylor Wimpey, one of the country’s biggest house builders. They’ve since applied for permission to change the development – which will remain pretty much the same in terms of number of dwellings and their specification, but the types will be interposed for those of Taylor Wimpey’s own design, which seems fair enough.
The planning application relating to this change is 12/0066/FL and was submitted on the 24th January 2012. There is no clue in the supplied documentation as to why the site changed hands, although the amount of section 106 funding to be provided by the developer does seem to have been contentious. This is the money that the developer pays out to the authority as part of the deal in order to fund community facilities to support the estate, like extra school places and so on. In the linked document, this is referred to as ‘the planning obligation’. That supporting statement is worth a read – note that Cerda Planning are a consultancy used by Taylor Wimpey, whose name appears on most of the drawings.
I find it a bit odd that the project has changed hands, although it never appeared as an upcoming development on the Morris Homes website, so it always looked a bit questionable. Hopefully, should the application be approved (and there’s no reason to suspect otherwise), construction will soon commence. It may not be what the community was originally promised, but it’s got to be better than wasteland, I think.