How planning works

It seems that a planning application has finally been submitted on behalf of Morris Homes for a housing development on the land just off Silver Street in Brownhills. This won’t come as any surprise to regular readers of this blog, as when a sign appeared on the site in question back in September, advising of a development ‘Coming soon’ – I blogged about it in the post ‘Predictable Outcomes’. I was surprised that such a sign had been erected without any planning permission apparently being sought for such a scheme.

The sign mysteriously disappeared a couple of weeks ago, and I blogged again, somewhat perplexed; however, today, the mystery is solved. Spotted on Walsall’s ‘Planning Interactive’ service, application number 10/1593/FL has appeared for the land situated off Silver Street. The development to be considered is for 36 dwellings ranging from 2 to 4 bedrooms in both detached and mews format. In other words, pretty much a continuation of the  adjacent Watermead Estate in style and character.


Extract showing relevant layout from submitted site plan. Click on image to view original document directly from Walsall Council's website.

There’s a fascinating collection of supporting documentation as is usual with Morris Homes applications, about house types and suchlike. Most interesting of all is the Amended design and access statement, detailing the planning history and process involved. Observers of the saga will be drawn to pages 4, 5 and 6 (section 2) which state the following:

The site is allocated for development with a preference towards a leisure use and through its planning history has been the subject of applications for various forms of development. There is now a presumption in favour of development and now a preference for residential use from the local planning authority and the existing community.

By ‘existing community’, the authors of the statement don’t mean the wider community of Brownhills, who at the time of the meadow being developed for the Watermead Grange estate, were promised new social, leisure or retail use of the site in return for the loss of green space the meadow represented. The developers are actually referring to the residents of Watermead Grange:

The planning history suggests that the Council Members have concerns about supporting a leisure or retail use on the site, and do not consider that such a use on this site would be in keeping with the predominantly residential environment. They also consider that the potential opening hours would be detrimental to the amenity of neighbouring residents.

Note that the ‘predominantly residential environment’ overlooks a Focus DIY store, delivery bays for Wilkinson and Aldi, a petrol station and soon, the delivery bay for a Tesco Extra, eventually to be built in place of Ravens Court. In short, we can’t have what we were promised because it may upset those who bought the homes so facilitated. Welcome to the wonderful world of Walsall’s planning committee.

What I find more curious, however, is how the sign advertising the future development came to be erected and removed. Is it common for developers to wildly preempt a theoretically democratic planning process in this way? Is it right that businesses should advertise such schemes that don’t yet have approval? Is it perhaps a sign that a misunderstanding somehow arose between interested parties over the ease with which approval may have been sought?

I know that all involved are honorable entities serving the community, so I find the whole situation rather curious. The plan itself looks pleasant enough – and if you don’t mind the prospect of overlooking the arse end of a large supermarket and the smell of a busy petrol station, I should think the homes will be lovely.

I just can’t help wondering what happened to all the fine promises of the past… yet again, resources for the community are lost in favour of commercial development. That’s just sad, but unfortunately, this always seems to be the case in Brownhills.


Extract from the 'Street Scens' drawing. Click to view the original document directly from Walsall Council's 'Planning Interactive' site. Unfortunately, the original has been scanned the wrong way up.

A selection of documents can be loaded directly from the application site by clicking the links below:

Amended design and access statement

Application forms

Highways statement

Landscape structure plan

Planning Layout

Street scenes

Supporting statement


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4 Responses to How planning works

  1. ianrobo says:

    Bob, wonder what your thoughts are on the Tory idea to allow local communities to decide on planning permission.

    can not make my mind up if sensible or allows unscrupulous to bung money around to make people vote for it.

    also one side of a road may agree and the other side may see their light being blocked out.

  2. Andy Dennis says:

    Bob, here is an answer your question about advertising boards for developments that have no formal approval. In my 30 years experience as a town planner (I’m now in remission!) this is not uncommon. In general terms, there are several reasons including:

    – a landowner may be testing the maket to see what sale price he can obtain;

    – a housebuilder might be testing the market to see whether there is demand for new houses on their land and what type and price of housing would be most profitable – significant demand could also strengthen their planning application;

    – it may simply be to get local people used to the idea that the site is to be developed for a particular use.

    I have also known adverts for types of development that are clearly contrary to local and national planning policies and have no realistic chance of being allowed.

    The board on site would normally be a very small fraction of the overall advertising budget and could be seen by a developer or landowner as “nothing to lose”.

    Of course, none of this means there is a foregone conclusion to the planning application. Nor does it prevent anyone from commenting on the application, for or against or to modify, or lobbying their local councillors if they want to influence the decision of the planning committee.

    Best wishes

  3. antony brindley says:


    What is happening to the planning of brownhills.
    Should not there been a decent road struscture constructed through out the brownhills and clayhanger
    before they started covering the countryside with concrette and houseing.

    What has to the railway station that was being planned
    there inthe first place.
    Hold that digger.

  4. Pingback: Going for a Wimpey? « BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog

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