Highfield House demolished

Just a quick note to point out that Highfield House, the cottage that formed Highfield House Farm, just off Pool Road off the A5 in Brownhills, has finally been demolished. Derelict for years, the site been subject to several planning applications to build a new house there, as documented recently by Brownhills Barry, and previously covered here.

Thanks to reader John for the tipoff: always welcome.

The house had no architectural value, and was an eyesore on the way to Chasewater – I think most of us will be glad to see it gone. I wish the new owners well in their project and look forward to seeing the results – we need a better gateway to Chasewater. If you’re reading this, please do drop me a line and tell me all about it. BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers…

I paid visit Sunday Afternoon after being alerted by reader John. 3:06pm, Sunday, 26th February 2012.

I hope in time, the surrounding fields will be managed properly again. 3:06pm, Sunday, 26th February 2012.

The site was very busy. It'll be interesting to see the new house develop. 3:08pm, Sunday, 26th February 2012.

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22 Responses to Highfield House demolished

  1. Pingback: Highfield House…. Gone!!! « Brownhills Barry and Clayhanger Clive's Blog

  2. warren parry says:

    i used to metal detect on this farm when it was a going concern. found a few bits of roman on it, would love to give it a go again one day.
    it was a blot on the landscape for some time now and i also welcome the development.

  3. Rob says:

    Yes it became a blot on the landscape.

    Due to Walsall and then Lichfield council’s hostility to the tenant farmer, whose family were swindled out of land they should have owned thanks to a stitch-up between the council and the coal board back in the 1950s

  4. warren parry says:

    Rob, i remember the chap that ran the farm was a absolutely nice fella. i always used to wonder why he appeared to let the farm go. You never know what is going on in the background do you.

  5. Rob says:

    Very true Warren.

    For about the last ten years of its working life he laboured under threat of eviction by the council.

    Not much of an incentive to go to work every morning.

  6. warren parry says:

    sorry to hear that Rob does he have a new farm to look after? i hope he did not come out of it too bad.

  7. Rob says:

    He’s retired now Warren, with a very smal compensation pay-off. He’s better off out of it anyway. The fatheads at the council didn’t realise that farming is a long-term operation with four or five year crop rotation and associated animal stocking levels to be sorted out, so to have an annual threat of eviction made a difficult job virtually impossible.

    The council kept on bulling up their plans to use the land as part of the Chasewater “Country Park” but they seem to have quietened down now that they’ve actually got it and it seems to be turning into a wilderness.

    One of the joke “rangers” (I wonder where they range – in the cafe?) took it upon herself to come over and lecture me on the error of my ways when I was shooting in the field a few years ago, but that’s what happens when people think they’ve got a bit of authority.

  8. Rob says:

    It used to be owned by Walsall MBC who acquired it from the coal board after the war. Boundary changes put it under Lichfield some time during the 1990s I think.

    Perhaps they didn’t have the finance for their Chasewater plans and sold it?

    • Walsall hadn’t owned that land since the 80’s.
      I think we both know the story is a little more complicated than you’re painting it – you’re also completely neglecting the influence of the toll road and the condition of the livestock.
      I’m not going into this any further for obvious reasons, but the LDC and Staffs didn’t own the land when it was vacated, and neither did Walsall for that matter.
      There was no plan to annexe that land to Chasewater, and never has been. Most recently, Lichfield marked it as suitable for housing development, but as they didn’t own it little was likely to happen, particularly considering the history of mining and contamination likely to be present in some parts of the site.
      It’s a sad tale, but a very involved one, and I’m not sure dragging it out publicly will benefit anyone, particularly the subject.


  9. Rob says:

    “There was no plan to annexe that land to Chasewater, and never has been. ”

    Which must come as quite a surprise to LDC’s compilers of the Chasewater Supplementary Planning Document where the area of Highfield House farm is referred to and marked on plans as “Chasewater South” together with discussion for its use as part of Chasewater Country Park.

    • Heh.

      That’s the housing development proposal, as mentioned earlier. That’s the one that had a certain greenbelt protestor in a tailspin. Still, the panic got him elected, so an ill wind, and all that.

      A wish list, never to be part of Chasewater, and they knew unlikely ever to be enacted. Chasewater South was the name to be given to the hypothetical development area. They had to submit a development framework by law, and with the Fradley eco-village on the skids, they just made it up as they went along.

      Since the whole fracas came at the same time as the dismantling of the local care framework some might suggest the whole thing was concocted as a diversion, but that would be just be daft.

      At the time that document was compiled, they were approving plans to build a single new house on the site, and preparing to dump the whole park on to Staffordshire. That had no developer, no ownership and no cash to do it. Apart from that, it was full speed ahead. Lichfield, rather than expand Chasewater, prevaricated over the SSSI and couldn’t dump the whole place fast enough, a bit like Walsall.

      Lichfield’s planning strategy is a mess and always has been.


  10. Rob says:

    From the document:

    Chasewater South
    This is the area south of the M6 Toll, not proposed for SSSI extension, which potentially offers
    the greatest scope for change and influence over the rest of the site. The Chasewater in-house study
    concluded that Chasewater South could be a key area for generating income streams. The area is
    the principal access to the Chasewater site, the gateway to the park.
    The total size of the area is 29 hectares and the area with potential for significant change is
    restricted to about 10 hectares, including the built area of the current Highfields Farm. There is nature
    conservation interest within the wider area, recognised through its SBI designation. Proposals should
    retain and improve connectivity by providing habitat links north to south and east to west and any
    plans should encompass this whole area to secure funding for this and its maintenance.
    Conversion and extension of Highfields Farm could be part of any proposals. Use of this for
    residential whilst being in conformity with planning policy would not provide the gateway approach to
    the country park required from this area. Commercial use on the footprint of the building for farm or
    a base for a commercial enterprise which was themed to sustainability or to the country park use to
    the north of the M6 Toll would be most appropriate. The buildings do however need extensive
    refurbishment and extension, which would need to adhere to green belt policy and would need to
    provide a quality facility.
    It may be useful to consider this as an overflow area for the south shore and as an area where
    uses which would be of benefit to the country park and which cannot be accommodated on the south
    shore could be sited. Under green belt policy such uses which may be permitted would include small
    ancillary buildings for facilities such as changing rooms/ limited refreshments. Uses would depend
    upon marketing the site but could include rare breed’s farm (which could provide information to the
    public and to support the sustainable management of the heathland), restaurant, and facilities to
    support sporting activities. It is important to note that due to its green belt location conversion of
    Highfields Farm would be the option, demolition and rebuild would not be permissible.

    Rather more than a housing development proposal.

    • Not if you read it in any detail, and it clearly never happened. However, if you can be bothered to nose through the whole thing, there’s some great comment by reader Andy Dennis.

      In short a bunch of consultants were paid ££££ to look at how to utilise dead land. So they sang for their suppers. Similar guff occurred when separate development plans were put forward for Brownhills at some cost with no consultation with anyone. We just got wee models in the library, and then it died.

      The document is part of the bullshit surrounding the Chasewater Draft Planning document, from quite a while after the farm was vacated, wasn’t policy and was just a talking shop. By then, Lichfield just wanted to dump the whole thing, and did so to Staffordshire. We’re talking about a tiny council with no money, who aren’t even responsible for the buildings at the lakeside (The Innovation Centre is a Staffs project), who are acutely sensitive to planning controversy.

      A symptom of the general non-committal attitude can be seen here:


      Which over the course of inception to derailing had it marked out for 400 unfeasible dwellings. No plan, no intention of delivery. Just LA waffle.

      The site of the former trotting track shouldn’t be ignored, either, and is also causing LDC pain. The extension of the SSSI really is a spanner in the works.

      So no, there never was a plan, just talking shops. Look at the planning history. 2 applications to replace the house after dereliction, an application and renewal to replace the stadium (ho ho ho) and an application for a mobile cell transmitter.

      What really did for the whole thing was the M6 toll.


  11. Rob says:

    So is the document a plan to annexe the farm land to chasewater or not?

  12. No. It was the documented result of a paid consultation, and was a suggested option for the land, that’s all. Note the use of terms like ‘Potentially’ and ‘Could’ – this is the kind of thing Councils do to look like they have an ongoing policy, rather than stumbling from one development to another, which is more usually the case.

    How local authorities work.

    Interestingly, while nosing around, there’s this map, which shows the current Burntwood south development map. Note Highfields isn’t marked for anything at all these days.

    Note also the caveats on the document that it’s basically waffle: no guarantee of planning approval, development etc.



  13. Rob says:

    Well, it looked like a plan to me.

    Re: local authorities.

    They seem to be just like large swathes of the public sector which are content to blow vast amounts of our money and squeal like pigs when any government tries to get some value for money out of them.

    They shout about maintaining services when they’re really more bothered about maintaining their own cosy existence.

  14. Pingback: The Thacker family, around 1930 « BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog

  15. Jonathan says:

    I’m Jonathan Thacker, the grandson of the founder of Thacker Barrows. We are orginally from Pelsall and not related to the Thacker family from Brownhills

  16. Pingback: Milking it | BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog

  17. Steve Raybould says:

    Slight correction: Yes it was Highfield House, but the farm was just Highfield Farm

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