Way back in June, 2008 I uploaded a photo to Panoramio of the wasteland that stands unloved and empty on the corner of Silver Street and the Watermead estate in Brownhills. It was just after an attempt had been made to develop the plot into a social club and bingo hall had failed, much to the joy of the residents of the new estate next door. The small parcel of land had been marked out for leisure/retail development when the meadow that the Watermead Estate was built upon had been sold by Walsall Council. The promise of such a leisure development was used as a sweetener to appease the residents of nearby Pelsall Road and assorted green space lovers who felt they were being sold down the river.
Sadly, the Watermead estate was built with no commercial development on the plot in question. As the estate became more established, opposition to any development on the land became terribly shrill. It was not long after that I uploaded the photo and commented the following upon it:
This parcel of land is all that remains of the meadow, most of which is now, in the words of one of the comments here, ‘a large Luxury David Wilson Housing Development’ – in other words a modern, pattern built estate.
Often, when one runs out of cash, the family silver is first to go, then lesser stuff finds its way onto eBay and then the junk ends up at a car boot sale – it was at the metaphorical boot sale that Walsall MBC sold the meadow to raise cash. It was pitched to the residents of Brownhills that although we’d lose green space, we’d also be getting a leisure development on a corner of the site – maybe a cinema, shops, that kind of thing.
The rabbit hutches were built, but any attempt to get the leisure development for the rest of us has met with stony disapproval by the luxury residents and their councilors who seem rather concerned that their peace shouldn’t be disturbed. Presumably, the original statements were a sham and the land will eventually go for… more housing.
This is galling for those of us who liked the greenery – our objections were ignored, but now we can’t satisfy the original promise as it may upset the new residents… most irritating of all was reading a report in the local press in which a local councilor detailed exactly what they would accept on the site.
Some of our representatives need to remember that they speak for all of the community, not just the bits of it they particularly favour.
It would seem that I was correct – it looks like the land is indeed, to fall to more housing. When I first saw the sign I was taken aback; I was unaware that back in January 2005 an application to build 30 flats and 9 houses had been approved for the site. Even still, as of now, no further relevant application has appeared on Walsall Council’s planning interactive service, and since the sign lists a variety of housing not listed in the 2005 application, one wonders what entitles Morris Homes to make such grand assumptions about future projects. It would seem that they’re advertising a development that has no planning application even submitted yet, and the five-year validity window for the previous application has surely now expired.
One can only assume that somebody in the council – who I suspect still own this land and are currently desperate to sell assets – has promised a favourable outcome.Why else would a developer feel bold enough to erect a sign promising a development that had no accessible application? It all seems a bit premature, to me; Morris Homes don’t advertise the site as being a prospective development on their website. One wonders if prospective buyers will be told that within 3 years they’ll awake and throw open the curtains upon the delightful vista of the delivery bay of the new Tesco store? I think they should be told…
One thing is for sure; Brownhills and it’s longstanding residents have been sold down the river again.