I received a statement yesterday from Walsall Council iterating the official view on the Tesco redevelopment in Brownhills, and it looks like the project may be hitting the buffers. In the original PR puffs in the Express & Star, outline planning permission was due to be sought (and presumably passed through on the nod) last October, then by the end of April 2009, then May 2009… one assumes that it’s stuck in a van on the new ring road, heading for the long grass. The original Express & Star article can be found here.
The statement from Walsall reads as follows:
Councillor Adrian Andrew, Walsall Council cabinet member for regeneration, said: “At the moment, no planning application has been received and there is no timetable for one.
“If one is received we will definitely look to publicise it widely to get a wide range of views before we make a decision.
“As an authority we are always keen to attract new investment and create jobs where we are able.”
There is also a statement in the accopanying mail which reads:
‘What I can add is that there is categorically no link between Brownhills market and the Tesco development.’
Whilst I’m not doubting the credibility of the press office at Walsall, who do a fine job in often difficult circumstances, chatter from the LNP and certain members of the local committee would appear to contradict this. I would draw attention to the letter in the Advertiser here from Doug Birch where it’s all about killing the market in order to ‘connect with the retail sector in the High Street…’ and the general tone of acceptance in his letter seemed to indicate that the eradication of the market was key to improving everything.
In the meantime, the market closes today, following a breakdown in negotiations between Spook Erection, it’s operators, and the council, Express & Star article here. I also received a statement from Walsall Council about the market, which reads thus:
Councillor Adrian Andrew, Walsall Council cabinet member for regeneration, said: “Officers have already been looking at options which include the possibility of the Council running the market if negotiations with Spook are unsuccessful.
“We want to ensure that Brownhills does not lose its market and we are working hard to try and ensure this.
“We are looking at a review of markets in Walsall and this will be part of this.”
This represents quite a sea-change, assuming that it’s not hot air and bluster. As I documented in my previous post, there seems to be a growing gulf between the local committee and councillors on this issue, and if any of the committee would like to mail me to clarify the point I’d only be too happy to publish your views here. I’d like to see Walsall take over the market; with decent policing and liaison there’s absolutely no reason for it not to survive.
Remember, there were always two competing proposals for Brownhills, but don’t forget that there was little money forthcoming for the non-Tescotown version. They can be found here, on the Walsall Council website… the market was always present in some form on both. They were, of course, just vague proposals, so should only be taken at face value.
To summarise; from being a done deal, the whole Tesco thing seems to have become a vague, fuzzy vision and we’ve just lost the market, which a member of the local committee saw as necessary to facilitate our benefactor’s dream. Now we have no market, and no firm plan for the new development. Excellent. Would the last shopper to leave Brownhills please switch of the lights? Thank you.
Thanks to the press office at Walsall for their help and assistance.