Odd occurrences at Oak Park?

It may not be handsome, but it’s all ours. Imagery from Google Maps, click for a larger version.

Reader Tkevcro commented on a post here last week, about some odd activity by surveyors at Oak Park in Walsall Wood, which I think deserves a wider exposure. I’m under the impression that Oak Park is indeed held in trust, and I think selling it off would be highly unlikely, but you never know.

There has, of course, been talk of rebuilding the facility, but I’ve always been sceptical about this as I can’t see where the money would come from.

It would be nice to find out what’s going on here. Do Walsall Council have anything to say on the matter, perhaps?

Tkevcro asked:

Hi Bob

I have concerns that land adjacent to the Brownhills Road and Coppice Road areas are being prepared to be sold off!

I live opposite and for the 3rd day running 2 people have been Conveyancing the land and in a short conversation with the one told me he was working for a client and just got payed for what he was doing but more than likely it was being sold of for development.

I believe this land is protected by a trust something to do with the miners?

Does anybody know?

I wrote the above part of this post on Monday. On Tuesday afternoon, this press release came in from Walsall Council, which may or may not be related:

Walsall Council  PR 8375    16/10/2012    [For Immediate Release]

New leisure centre plans for Walsall

Leisure chiefs in Walsall have unveiled outline plans to build two new leisure centres in the borough.

Initial recommendations for the new centres at Oak Park and Bloxwich will be presented to Walsall Council Coalition’s Cabinet on Wednesday 24 October 2012.

People who live near Oak Park and Bloxwich Leisure Centres are being invited to comment on the plans starting today, Tuesday 16 October until Sunday 28 October 2012. Leisure staff are particularly interested in the views of local residents and centre users. People can view the plans for Oak Park at the Leisure Centre and can comment in a variety of ways including:

* View the plans at the leisure centre and fill in a feedback form
* Email your comments to leisureproposals@walsall.gov.uk
* Fill in the on-line questionnaire at:
http://www2.walsall.gov.uk/consultations/leisure2012/proposals2012.htm
* Text the words ‘Walsall leisureplans’ followed by your message to 60003, or
* write to: Oak Park Leisure Plans, Room 28, Walsall Town Hall, WS1 1TW

It is hoped that the multi-million pound investment will be supported by a grant of up to £2m from the Sport England Lottery Fund. Councillors and senior officers are currently drawing up full proposals, including a full breakdown of the investment required, with the grant application to be submitted in mid-December 2012.

The leisure centre at Oak Park, would provide state of the art facilities including an eight lane 25m swimming pool, a teaching pool with moving floor, a six badminton court sized sports hall, fitness suite, health spa, dance studio and catering facilities. In addition the artificial turf pitch would be upgraded bringing the new facility well into 21st century.

Councillor Anthony Harris, cabinet member for sport and leisure at Walsall Council Coalition, said: ‘Walsall’s leisure centres are generally not in good condition. We accept that they’re ageing, unattractive and poorly designed compared to current standards and will become increasingly costly to manage.

‘From our research we know the best way to encourage more people to take up some form of physical activity is to improve our leisure centre facilities and ensure they’re of good quality, well designed and attractive.

‘The council is committed to maintain and improve the health and well-being of its residents. This will help people be happier, fitter, healthier and more able to work.’

Adult levels of activity in Walsall are among the lowest in the country. The Government’s recent Marmot review, Sport England and health professionals agree that inactivity, obesity and a variety of health problems are all related. Whilst improvements have been made these have been slower than hoped for. The council’s proposals to replace and or refurbish its centres will play a key role in encouraging residents to be more active.

As ever, if you know anything, please comment here or contact me in confidence on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.

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10 Responses to Odd occurrences at Oak Park?

  1. Peter says:

    The plan for Oak Park sounds just like……… Oak Park!
    Not sure about the total investement but I dont think a grant of up to £2M will go very far, I cant see the Council putting much in as they dont seem to have enough money already.
    OPLC is ageing and looking understandably quite tired these days. Good for the council in trying to do something about it, I fear a knockdown and rebuild is the best way forward.
    OPLC is a needed facility and I hope that a newer better facility (should it happen) is well used.

  2. Lee says:

    The plans for the new Oak Park are on show at the leisure centre reception. It is a rebuild on the grass land along Brownhills Road after the pedestrian path. It is a L shaped design with the entrance furthest from the road. facing the existing football pitches. The old leisure centre is to be demolosihed. The car park is also planned to be moved, with the entrance off Copice Road.
    I believe the intention is to keep the current facility open during the build.
    It is my understanding that the land proposed for the centre is no longer trust land following a swap for the land by the old railway station/play park, agreed with the charity commission a few years ago.

  3. Rose Burnell says:

    This all sounds rather too good to be true. I’ll resist the urge to hold my breath.

  4. tkevcro says:

    It all seems a bit fishy to me the land being surveyed then plans put forward to the council cabinet within 12 working days before all the comments are in 4 days later?
    The land they are planing to build on is used very regulary not only by football teams on a
    Saturday and Sunday but by young girls and boys(i would say 5-15 year olds being coached through out the week.I often see families having some time together on there… where they going to go?
    Many times were being told of the improvements being made and money being spent,yet it only seems to attract vandalism as with the astro turf which gets ripped up in parts,the cage contraption at the back of oak park which has seen the gates ripped off and other parts taken damage done
    to the skate board track and even the roof on the shelter next to it was half ripped off.Thousands of pounds wasted. All this done with cameras monitoring yet you dont hear of any summones.
    Also attracts users,drunkards,graffiti and litter louts.
    No I say keep them there and not move them down the road to a residential area and keep the Park as what a Park is meant to be should be for recreational outside use for the people to enjoy at no cost.
    Also what would happen to the land where the existing centre is?Does anybody know?My guess is they swap it for a useless bog ridden piece of land and then sell it off to the highest bidder(probably already sorted)and build a retail park with a Mcdonalds and Pizza hut etc to go with the KFC.

  5. nick tranter says:

    to also add cllr haris on 25 oct authorized £130.000 to be spent on just preparing the planning application this being done before anyones comments are even read this application being scheduled for subbmission on the 31 oct
    having seen the plans who would have thought putting a refuse area and plant room directley opposite someones house would not win their immediate approval
    why not rebuild where it is and keep everyone happy
    from d&n

  6. Steve Holden says:

    I must say that upon hearing the news that Oak Park was to be redeveloped I was initially quite happy, as the resources there are long overdue a complete re-haul. However, upon inspecting the plans earlier today I am afraid that my initial enthusiasm has been somewhat dampened.

    The plans themselves seem to indicate that the existing green area (much enjoyed by my and other local families) is to be largely tarmacked over and converted into a car park for over 1000. Certainly not the reason why I moved to Barrow Close two years ago. One of the principal reasons in purchasing my current house was the easy availability of the wide open public space just across the road, which under these proposals will be reduced to around one third of its current size. Furthermore, with the two public football pitches no longer being available, one assumes that all current games will be played on the one remaining pitch, therefore further reducing the available space to those of us not playing amateur football.

    I also have grave concerns about the positioning of the new access for the proposed car park, presently Coppice Road is reasonably quiet, although is used by locals as a rat run. Brownhills Road is also somewhat of a traffic nightmare when turning out of Coppice Road and heading towards the Lichfield Road, and again when getting closer to Anchor Bridge on the Brownhills end of Lindon Road. The proposed re-siting of the access to the new leisure centre will only further compound the problem and make the surrounding roads traffic chaos for the local residents. Furthermore, there have been a number of rather serious RTA’s on Coppice Road in the time that I have lived here, surely adding further traffic to a minor estate road will only add to the tally! At present there is only a proposed crossing into the leisure centre itself, should there not be one further down Coppice Road where all the local children do, and will continue to access the (remaining) playing fields? In addition to this, the aforementioned amateur footballers all currently park next to the playing fields on Coppice Road, will they be forced to use the new car park, or will they simply just park further down Coppice Road making the exisitng parking situation around Barrow Close worse?

    In relation to my last paragraph, I would be interested to learn why the car park and access cannot use the present site. Is it indeed, as has been suggested by local commentators, that it is the council’s intention to sell this off to a third party for leisure or retail use, therefore adding further unwanted traffic to the Walsall Wood area? The present roadways around Walsall Wood were not designed to handle such volumes of traffic (indeed Coppice Road and Brownhills Road can barely handle what they have at present).

    I was also troubled to hear the manner in which this has been put forward for comment. The plans are only available at the leisure centre, when they could easily have been made available online, and the time frame for comment is extremely short, especially given that the plans will be presented to the council four days later for approval. All of which smacks highly of a done deal regardless of the views of local residents.

    The proposal itself I am not against, I simply cannot understand however why the present site needs to be re-located rather than just rebuilt upon. There is a perfectly serviceable access on the Lichfield Road in Walsall Wood, with ample parking. I can only think that it is because of the issue highlighted by some others that the council will get paid a pretty penny for the current site by a developer at the expense of the quality of life of the local residents, whose council taxes are no doubt paying for this.

    • tkevcro says:

      Thanks for your input Steve.
      I canvassed the houses in Brownhills Rd No 46-100, 28 houses and issued them information to make sure they made there inputs to Walsall Council before todays deadline my results are////:
      9 No answer to door.
      1 Didn`t know about plans(Young girl about 13 whose parents werent up).
      18 Against building on proposed location.

      I also informed one of the amateur football teams (Shelfield F C) this morning and they didn`t know about the plans and they have just paid the fees to the council to play on there. I dont know who the other team who play there but I bet they dont know either.
      I also dicovered yesterday that the actual plans are on line in pdf format at:

      http://cms.walsall.gov.uk/index/oak_park_leisure_centre.htm

      I don’t know why this information was not issued assuming it was available from the offset.
      I also discovered that the new building will have no squash courts in them????odd
      because if I recall correctly the existing building had them added on a couple of years or so later after the building was ‘finnished’. I understand its still quite popular.
      Further investigation I also see a new gym as just been finished and extensive repairs to the roof were only completed in the last year.The roof as been a problem for a long time.

      Any more information I will post and would be grateful if there’s any more information relevent to be posted.
      Thanks to all,
      Kev

  7. Hi folks

    I’ll be blogging this tomorrow – nice work on finding the plans.

    I’d also caution on some of the wilder aspects of this. Something doesn’t smell right. Walsall Council is next to broke. 90-odd jobs to go, 20 million odd in cuts. They have no money to fund parks (3 posts to go), and that’s with the refurb of the Arboretum. They have their backs to the wall here. They’re even shutting public bogs and hammering school meals.

    Meanwhile, over in Walsall Wood, Cllrs. Harris and Sears (but not, seemingly Flower) are throwing out door-to-ddor leaflets about their ‘campaign’. It’s like election time here, yet we don’t have another fro a good 18 months.

    They have no money to build this, no planning application yet, and as far as I can tell, no real detailed design – that one isn’t architectural, it’s a projection. That’s not the work of a specialist.

    They’d have to get it through planning – where you’d have an opportunity to lobby against, and they’d have to find the money. Where from? Also, they had to land swap on the existing site to keep on the right side of the charities commission, they’d have to do it all over again. Interestingly, in that projection, the previously swapped land is returned to leisure.

    I’ll be honest, I think we need a new centre – and comments about refurbs etc, well – this is years and years away, if at all. I can understand everyone’s fears, but this is still a dream with absolutely no substance.

    My concern is what they’re distracting us from. The fact that Grumpy and the Invisible Man are on the case, but not the young un, also looks a bit odd.

    I have this odd feeling that if enough opposition is felt, they’ll use decay as an excuse to close Oak Park and then throw their hands up and say we wouldn’t allow a new one to be built. They’ve done similar before, notably the Youth Centre in Chuckery.

    Stay tuned, and I’m enjoying the detective work

    Bob

  8. Pingback: Oak Park: this doesn’t smell right | BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog

  9. Pingback: Oak Park: this doesn’t smell right | BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog

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