You can never go back

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Looks like we’re stuck with it – but whose fault is it, anyway?

The whole Brownhills-Tesco thing has left me interested in the breadth and spread of local opinion, in a way I don’t normally see it. I’m interested in theories people have, their perceptions, and what they see the future to be.

I’ve also become aware of quite a lot of misconception, which is natural, but concerning – particularly in Facebook comments. I was going to comment on this on the original post, but the issue is large, and I think it merits a post of it’s own.

I think at the outset, it’s fair to say we all remember old Brownhills to some degree; I remember the busy town of the 70s, with the bustling market (which did have a reputation for selling tat, even then, but was very popular), loads of little shops, a couple of medium size (for the day) supermarkets and numerous little, independent shops. How I’d love to be able to go to Elkins for a pound of nails, or Woods Bike Shop for an innertube again. I’m sure older readers hanker for the days of Princeps, Brenda Perry or Craddocks. But time moves on.

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The days of folk shopping in Emporia like Craddocks have passed, for bettor or worse. Image from ‘Memories of Old Brownhills’ by Clarice Mayo and Geoff Harrington.

When Hillards, Great Mills and a new road system came to Brownhills in the mid-80s, the rot had already set in. A newly emergent section of society were discovering mobility, afforded by cheaper cars and increasing wealth of the upper working class. Unsurprisingly, market forces were quick to take advantage, and the out of town boom was born.

I remember radio adverts for Savacentre, in Oldbury, and Carrefour in Telford, and they sounded almost exotic. Together with Asda in Bloxwich and other growing retail monoliths, the idea of driving to a large site – most likely on the fringes of town – was sold, and became normal. More of us would go to Walsall, or perhaps Lichfield, or Sutton. The car – and the media – was expanding our horizons.

The retail giants had another ace in the pack; they were often much cheaper than smaller shops. People flocked to them, exercising their economic prerogative. By the time Tesco bought Hillards and started it’s transition into a dominant commercial force, Brownhills was already being measured for it’s coffin.

The reasons Brownhills died were not complex and don’t, I believe, rest at the feet of Tesco, or for that matter the planners. They largely rest with us. We had the choice to go elsewhere. We took it. Brownhills withered, and died. In that, it was not unique. The small town High Street is suffering, to a greater or lesser extent, throughout the UK. We chose to drive to Asda, or Sainsbury’s and pay 10% less for a bag of sugar. We liked the increased range, the new products and  lifestyle choices afforded. For all of the homeliness and community, we got a taste for things the small traders of Brownhills couldn’t provide at prices we liked. The transfer of the High Street balance of commerce from retail to service sectors started.

Where there was retail space, fast food, betting shops and other service providers moved in. Thus a process that started with the loss of small grocers moved to completion. We had a High Street that now had a large percentage of retail units closed during the day, or providing seldom-needed services. The place became less attractive to visit. A race to the bottom ensued.

There were other factors, too. The rise of the working housewife drained vital daytime trade, and moved demand to weekends. It also made shopping time a time critical thing, as it now ate into leisure time. The convenience of getting stuff all done in one place and quickly was seductive, and won.

To my mind, this would have happened with or without Tesco in Brownhills. The effects may have differed slightly, but the writing was on the wall socially, and the tide was strong. Tesco’s presence in Brownhills was neither the start of, nor cause of it’s decline, but it was a symptom of a wider change in society.

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As daft ideas go, this was a big one – 6 years after I took this picture, these shop units are still empty. But the planners had limited powers to oppose.

The planning issue is interesting. I continually hear ‘x is the planners fault’ or ‘Brownhills was wrecked by the town planners’. People are often shocked by how little of Brownhills is actually under council control, and how much was historically private development. Ravens Court, for instance, is not controlled, owned nor designed by Walsall Council or any other, but was built by Ravenseft, a big developer of the day (hence ‘Ravens Court’). What goes on there – and what it’s fate ultimately is – is not in the hands of the Council but of the private owners to whom it still belongs.

People tend to misunderstand how planning works, and how rigid it is. For right or wrong, planning is limited in its power; if you want to build a superstore in Brownhills, you apply. You employ consultants and urban design specialists to suggest designs, road and traffic changes, that sort of thing. These people are experts, and know every nook and cranny of planning law. When that application is put to the council – who also have a legal duty to advise the prospective developer on what may or may not be acceptable – there are a very narrow set of constraints on which the application is judged. It must comply with the law, and any relevant mandatory guidance, like respecting environmental concerns. The committee have to listen to objections, but again, these have by law to be looked at in a very constrained way.

The planning Committee can’t refuse if they don’t like the store owners, or if they feel it will destroy a town. Whilst objections to such can be made, their scope for consideration is very, very limited. In such cases, Walsall have previously had some remarkable successes, actually.

Good examples of this misconception abounded in Lichfield recently, when the rumour went round that the Council had refused permission for a Poundland as it was too downmarket – with similar howls of outrage about the coming Primark in Walsall. There is no planning legislation appropriate for retail snobbery, fortunately. Considering the objections to Lichfield’s Poundland, I do wonder who the store is actually choc full of at the weekends…

Providing the development you want to build is acceptable in law, and the objections are considered, the Planning Committee cannot refuse permission. If it does, the application will be appealed, approved by a higher body, and the Authority forced to pay costs. Faceless ‘planners’ at Walsall are not responsible for the current or proposed development. They will have made suggestions, based on consultations, but they have relatively minor input.

This is evidenced in Edwina’s recent comment about the ‘Planners’ she felt were responsible for the houses at the Silver Waters development being, in her view ‘too close to the road’. Quite simply, the planners had no control over this. The architects designed a development. It complied with regulations. They had no real case to object. The issue, if there is one, is the legal framework round building regulations. Under the current, developer-freindly government, this is only going to get more relaxed.

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The ‘Drive to regenerate Brownhills’ – How’s that going, chaps?

I’m no fan of Tesco, and their behaviour towards Brownhills has been a disgrace. My view has always been that a new store would be approved, which it was. My contention was that a good enough deal was never hammered out with the community to ameliorate it’s effects. I thought the new design was awful, and would have proved even more of a barrier to the High Street, but there was nothing that could be done. Tesco never bought the land required, instead, retaining the option to buy when required. To that end, the current owners of Ravens Court vacated tenants steadily and allowed it to decline. This was a dreadful thing, and I’m not sure how we can recover from it. The council have no control over this, and when one thinks carefully, the land Ravens Court stands on isn’t big enough to build much upon with parking.

As part of this, various agencies clearly undertook change, or allowed neglect, in preparation for an imminent Tesco rebirth, which initially promised houses, shop units, restaurants and other fanciful things. Sadly, senior members of the community fell for this promise, and believing in an eventual renaissance, conditions slid even further. This itself is grim beyond words.

To take a community so far up the garden path, then abandon it is cruelty, and nothing less.

The idea that the people of Brownhills can suddenly wrest control from the evil authorities and spur some retail renaissance is also a bit specious. The social factors causing the decline of retail in so many places are the rise of the internet and social mobility. To get small stores into Brownhills, it needs much better facilities and a far improved environment. Looking at Lichfield, experiencing similar issues with a huge tourist trade, it’s clearly hard to attract small business. We actually have a steady stream of small companies opening here – but many don’t endure. I’m thinking the model shop, pet shop, motorcycle shop, clothes shops – all lost n the last 12 months, none more than a couple of years old. In a town that had over a thousand dwellings ripped from it’s heart, it’s bloody hard to survive.

We need regeneration desperately. We need to attract small business that will endure. It’s notable that the one bit of retail space that is controlled by Walsall Council is Silver Court, and that’s nearly fully let. The town needs to form good partnerships, both with its traders and the consumers. However, above all that, it needs big money investment. It’s damned hard to attract and there’s not much on the table.

I suspect the future for towns like ours is for the High Street to contract, and be partially replaced with housing. To that end, that’s why I find the mooted development at Lanes Farm so bizarre. We need to draw residence to the centre of towns and avoid the doughnut effect so evident here right now.

Walsall Council have done many, many utterly daft things in Brownhills, and I’m no fan. However, they aren’t the cause of the current mess in the way some hold them to be. The real cause is ourselves, our freedom to choose, and changing societal mores. Whilst it’s heartening and positive to cry for a return to a golden past, you can’t jump in the same river twice, and recreating that past would be impossible.

Instead, we must press for for better developments from commerce, as far as that’s possible, and think about, and discuss, the way we’d like stuff to change.

This isn’t a definitive response, and I expect many to disagree. I anticipate that Andy Dennis will have something to say. I welcome it all. We need to have the conversation, but I think we need to appreciate the limitations and what is actually possible.

It’s a damn sight easier to place blame than solve a problem.

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This is our town. We need to think about the future, not continually hark back to a past we cannot reattain. Times change, and so do we.

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28 Responses to You can never go back

  1. Jane Booth says:

    I like many others in Brownhills have felt that we are the forgotten town of Walsall Borough. If you visit nearby town’s that have High Street shops they do not seem to suffer the same fate. For example. Aldridge, Bloxwich, Hednesford and Pelsall. Most of these have large supermarkets close by but have still managed to retain the local businesses. What do Brownhills do wrong? Why have we become the town that time forgot. I agree that we cannot blame Tesco . I recall some time ago before the houses were built near to Tesco that Planning had been submitted for a cinema and leisure complex. This would have given us a badly needed regeneration and encouraged businesses to move to Brownhills. I would love to be able to visit my local shops at the weekend instead of getting in the car and driving.

    • Brownhills doesn’t get great investment, no, I agree. But we forget that Brownhills is small, and I think for years, in retail terms, it punched above it’s weight.
      Aldridge, Bloxwich and Hednesford serve huge areas of housing. Really big estates are close by. Brownhills – with the social housing clearances of the last decade – just doesn’t have the numbers. Additionally, there’s been the loss of big industry too, with people working outside town. Remember that Aldridge and Bloxwich are surrounded by very large areas of industry. Those workers bring business.
      All those places have suffered, but not as badly. Pelsall is interesting, because the shopping centre is small, and wasn’t built on industry.
      I agree about the housing at Silver Waters and it should, as promised, have gone to leisure. That was a council failure, and I was disgusted by the position of our local representatives on that. That’s a matter of record.
      As I said, I’d love to shop local too. But retail is in challenging conditions.
      As a cyclist, I try to support local bike shops as much as I can, because where else can you get an inner tube or a spoke on a Saturday in a hurry? However, when they quote a week delivery and £50 more on a £90 item, it’s hard to justify. Particularly when you order from the same place that they do.
      We live, as they say, in interesting times.
      Cheers
      Bob

  2. Andy Dennis says:

    Well done, Bob. This is a very good commentary and useful as a starter for debate about what might or might not be desirable or possible.

    This turned out a bit long, but bear with me.

    First, I will give an idea of how this would be dealt with in a small town in Germany. There the local authority only releases land for development when it thinks it is needed and decides what sort of housing and other developments are to be allowed. They appoint builders through tendering. This helps to match supply more closely to need/demand so that house prices are much less volatile than here. In one case I know of, to enable expansion of the town, land was allocated and some infrastructure installed. This included a small power station that all new developments must use – no chopping and changing between (say) E.ON and EDF, but this would be seen as anti-competitive here. The “council”, at considerable cost, moved a pylon line away from the site. Fat chance here! The land has been released in phases and a new phase is nearing completion as I write. Similar things happen in the Netherlands and Norway where the authorities have much more control than they do here. Even in Italy, which is often percieved as somewhat lax, there is a much better match between supply and demand.

    Many people here think the same happens in England and Wales, but we have a very different approach where competition is king. The council is only able to engage actively in development projects where it has a stake; for example owning land or having money to spend. The latter is only likely to exist where grant aid is available, such as City Challenge, which, in my view, ought to have been continued.

    I can’t remember all of the details, but I had been working for Walsall Council for a few months when the Hillards, etc. proposal came in. It included a canalside pub and a new post office, among other things. As we know the supermarket went ahead, but the Council had no way of enforcing the other things.

    Before that the first big supermarket in the area was Asda at Bloxwich. Planning authorities had generally sought to focus retailing and services in town centres and Asda was as close a could be, as was Hillards. However, the Thatcher government was in favour of relaxing the rules and very quickly there was a bonanza of planning permissions for retailing in out-of-centre or out-of-town locations, which councils were powerless to resist, and which would draw trade away from the traditional centres. At one point in the catchment area for Walsall there were out-of-town planning permissions for more shopping floorspace than existed in the town centre itself. This had the effect of deterring investment in these centres, which were unable to compete. Well, the lady did turn and the new national policy allowed local planning authorities to define the boundaries of centres in a heirarchy. Here this meant that the top of the pyramid was Walsall, then the district centres – Aldridge, Bloxwich, Brownhills, Darlaston and Willenhall – and local centres, for example Pelsall and Walsall Wood. Within these centres shopping developments of appropriate scale were to be allowed, competition being nor bar. Outside these centres the developer would have to prove need and show that it would not harm the town, district or local centres. But the damage was already done. There was no realistic way to revoke the out-of-centre permissions, for example at Axletree Way (where Ikea is) or Reedswood (the old power station site).

    My family was as guilty as the next. Before Asda, Mom shopped in the High Street at places like Dewhurst butchers, Holmes greengrocer, a fishmonger, chemist, Gregory’s, Kingston’s shoe shop, sweets from Joe’s, toys from Princeps and so on. After Asda on (I think) Thursday evenings we waited for Dad to drive home from work, piled into the car en famille and filled the boot with provisions. Some went further to Carrefour at Minworth. That’s when the writing appeared on the Brownhills wall (and hundreds of other walls up and down the country). In the light of that, the best thing that could happen for Brownhills back then was a rival supermarket to at least keep people using Brownhills for something.

    So what of the present and future? The Council was never in a position to refuse Tesco’s plans for a bigger or new store, even if it thought that it would cause a further decline in the local independent High Street shops. Remember, competition is king. And it had / has no realistic power to do anything about Raven’s Court. In terms of the planning system, it could try, as part of a contraction policy for the centre, to allocate the site for high density housing and use it as part of the argument against Sandhills (that really is another story, but the weather’s nice and my garden needs some attention). However, if the owners resist the likelihod is that it would fail and compulsory purchase would be unavailable to make something happen.

    I’ve said before that local authorities are unable to make strategic decisions of any moment, emasculated as they are by national policy and worsening shortage of cash. Unless one or both of these change very considerably, the future of the High Street in Brownhills (as for most other small town centres) is in the hands of the private sector and unless they smell a profit they won’t move a muscle.

    One trend is for people ordering goods on line and collecting from a store on their way to work or home. Perhaps Brownhills could offer something? Maybe a wi-fi hotspot would attract some life? I think there are too many shop units and a policy of contraction with more new homes would be a step in the right direction, but will the market support it? There are no easy answers.

    • Andy, thank you so much.

      You’ve put, far better and with much sounder knowledge, what I feel. In a nutshell.
      You are, quite simply, bang on, in my opinion.

      As I say, I’m no fan of Walsall. But we have to appreciate that their capacity to do or challenge anything here was virtually nil.

      Best wishes, and have fun in the garden

      Bob

  3. Edwina says:

    I can see where you are coming from, but surely when you build any kind of structure ie: a house, a shop etc., doesn’t someone have to apply for permission to put it there and doesn’t it have to go before a planning committee? If I want to build an extension to my house i believe I would have to submit a plan of some kind showing its size etc., how close to whatever its being built to, if its going to encroach on my neighbour etc., etc., are telling me that this did not happen over by Tesco, the places that are too close to the road? Do they not consider people with children living in these little domains, no probably not – its profit, profit,profit, Bob are you telling me I’v got it wrong? I believe at the end of the day that the Council do bear some responsibility about what is being built and where and if not why not isn’t that what we pay them for from our taxes – to keep an eye on things for us? If not what is the point of electing them and what do they do?

    • Hi Edwina.

      The planning process checks that applications – whether it be a house extension or a housing estate – comply with legislation, environmental development rules, and considers aesthetic and social considerations. That includes building regs, right to light etc.
      Planning is now so neutered by successive administrations, that providing these conditions are met, planners can’t really object.
      Nothing about the Silver Waters development contravenes building regulations. It’s a simple as that. It’s perfectly allowable to build houses that open onto the street – look at Darwin Park in Lichfield – this is indeed done to maximise land use, but many folk don’t like large gardens these days. I wouldn’t want to live in one of those, but they’re up for sale and folk don’t have to buy them. If you have or are having kids, I guess you make these considerations. The houses at Silver Waters are really not unusual in their design and you’ll see the same layout – houses round a perimeter facing inwards – in many new developments.
      I’m afraid you are overestimating the power of planning, but that’s not uncommon. The Thatcher government of the 80’s and 90s eroded it, and continues to do so now, to the point where they want to allow people to build extensions without building inspections or planning being necessary.
      As to what the council do and what you pay them for, the rules are laid down by central government. Andy, above, worked in planning, and as you can tell, he’s a very knowledgable, caring chap. Many planners are as frustrated as you.
      Planning, though, is only a small part of the council’s work, there’s all kinds of services from refuse to greenspace to environmental health that are provided.

      The dismantling of current planning law was in the last Tory manifesto. How many people knew or cared when they voted?

      Cheers
      Bob

      • Andy Dennis says:

        Hello Edwina.

        All types of development need planning permission. Some types are granted by Act of Parliament, some of which are detailed in regulations, such as fences, garden sheds, small domestic extensions and so on, in specified circumstances. Anything else requires an application to the local planning authority (Walsall Council for “Bob’s patch”).

        The great majority of planning applications are determined by officers to speed up the process, provided the proposal satisfies planning policies and that there are no objections. Councillors can call in an application for committee decision in some cases, including controversial proposals.

        Something like 98% of domestic applications are approved, though they may have been improved between application and grant of permission. The government thinks this is a waste of time and that the few developments that are refused would be better dealt with in the courts – in other words if your neighbour builds a monstrosity next to your house it would be up to you to sue them in the courts. Some planners feel they should not be expected to intervene in what are essentially neighbour disputes, especially when someone has built without planning permission.

        For larger schemes, for example housing, shops, and factories, the council is required by law to decide whether to grant permission having regard to the policies in its development plan, national policies and any other relevant considerations. The council’s policies must accord with national policy, which is now set out in the National Planning Policy Framework. If a proposal satsifies these policy requirements the council is compelled to grant permission, however reluctantly. As Bob says, refusing permission when it should have been granted results in successful appeals and the council often having to pay the other side’s costs, which can run into millions of pounds.

        So, if Tesco wants to build a bigger or different store in the area defined as the centre of Brownhills and they are able to satisfy the other policy requirements the council has no grounds to stop them. Equally, having granted planning permission the council has no power to force Tesco to build. This applies to any other developer.

        What is often unnoticed is that many development proposals are considerably improved as a result of pre-application discussions with council officers so that when an application arrives it can be processed relatively quickly. Another thing that goes unseen is the number of proposals that don’t see the light of day because the planners say there would be no chance of getting planning permission in the first place.

        This does not mean the council rolls over when there is an opportunity to resist what it thinks is wrong. Sandhills (Home Farm) has not been developed for that reason. (I’ll do some separate notes on Sandhills.) Asda is in the middle of Darlaston and not on the Black Country Route for that reason. And Brownhills Business Park is not a housing estate. There have been many other public inquiries where the Council has been successful after refusing planning permission. The Council also challenges development outside the borough if it would be harmful, for example the factory outlet centre proposal for Burntwood some years back.

        The overwhelming majority of planning applications satisfy planning policy or are improved to the point that they do. Generally speaking major developers don’t bother challenging these policies until they have the chance to help shape the development plan. That process is happening now.

        Usually, there is almost no public input to the process because people don’t take the trouble to find out what’s going on. The Council publishes a weekly list of planning applications and is currently consulting on planning policy documents that will effectively determine where various types of developments can go in the next 20 years, but I know from long experience that people don’t take any notice. A leaflet was sent to every council tax payer, but I wonder how many have evaded the waste paper basket and how many will lead to any sort of formal comment. Just 3% would shatter all records!

  4. Carter Magna says:

    I have a horrible feeling that I have read something in the comments section of an article that was long, made sense and was put forward in a rational and compelling way. It was also not peppered with swear words and racial slurs.

    This is not my internet.

  5. John Duffy says:

    Excellent piece bob, a very even handed take on what
    Has happened. After spending over a year working on various proposals for the Brownhills tesco store some 5 years ago, it is very disappointing to see that they have let everyone down, shame on them !

  6. Tina Hill says:

    very interesting. As I only come home, yes home, a few times in the year, I do notice the ‘state’ of the town declining, to a degree of feeling ashamed. I to live in Germany, and every town had ice rinks and in the summer they used it as a roller ring, swimming pools, everything for family time.
    All I seem to notice when I do come home, is that you can always get something to eat in Brownhills. It is such a shame the town has demised the way it has. I did notice the demise of a good dress shop near the butchers, why can’t the small business survive?. as you said out of town shopping.
    I now live in Boston in Lincolnshire, and have seen the same thing happen here, the small traders cannot compete with the big guns, and sadly they have closed. We do still have a good market. They built a shopping arcade in Boston,and like so many places, half the shops are empty. What is the answer, I am not really sure, if I am honest.
    I do get saddened, when I come home, to see Brownhills in the state it is in, and I also agree those houses near Tesco are far to close to the road. I could bump my gums more but to what avail, are the Ravens court shops going to be left like that, or are small business going to be put in there.

  7. Edwina. says:

    Many thanks for putting me wise re the planning thing, but I still feel it is such a shame to build them so close to the road, I just have a vision of a small child running out and wham, but that’s me in my old age. I know in these trying times that everyone is after their “two pennorth” myself included, so perhaps i too am to blame for the demise of sad old Brownhills, but heyho the future is ahead. Lets all try to make sure that in future we give our children something good to look back on and hopefully something worthwhile. At least we’ll get the common sorted and Chasewater is really coming on strong – Onwards and Upwards is the battle cry isn’t it – and thanks Bob I just love your daily wanderings and wonderings and your pictures are something else, must get you to give us all lessons in how to take a good picture …

  8. Sue Tirgu says:

    I posted this letter back July 2012. Now where do we go! The land exchanges between Tesco and Walsall Council what happens to the them Clinic area!
    July 2012.

    Dear all,
    I have been trading on the High Street for ten years come September. Over the last eighteen months I have watched the foot fall of the High Street vanish. Saturday is the worst.
    When the market first closed I corresponded with Adrian Andrews regarding this matter with no joy, informing him that people still come to Brownhills looking for the market, even today people still come to Brownhills for the market. There has been two attempts at re launching the market (People come from Telford, Birmingham, Darlaston, Tamworth looking for it)
    In my opinion Brownhills is on hold until the redevelopment of Tesco and as you are aware this is a long way off.
    Ravens Court
    This area has been allowed to fall into a rundown state due to the proposals of Tesco. This will remain the same until Tesco decide when to build their new store – which to my knowledge has been in the system for over eight years.
    My understanding is that Tesco are not in any negotiation to purchase any of the buildings and in the end the land will be compulsory purchased by the council for the Tesco devolvement to go ahead. What time scale is that looking at?
    To my knowledge there are there are fifteen retail units available in Ravens Court, two of which are still trading and the two that face the High Street. I am aware that a lot of these buildings have been vandalized but surely would it not be feasible to make good in this area, working with the owners and the council to redevelop it into a shopping centre once again? Why should Brownhills be held accountable to Tesco?
    In the time I’ve been trading in Brownhills I have seen Tesco new builds/refurbishment take place in Walsall, Aldridge, Lichfield and Walsall Wood. All these locations are less than twenty minutes from Brownhills so why does Brownhills need a new Tesco’s? And why is the Brownhills new build on hold? In my opinion Tesco have had their opportunity to redevelop, let’s make good of what we have left and redevelop Ravens Court into a shopping precinct once more. Look at Silver Court, a row of shops that had been empty units for a long time, now all the shops are taken.
    Take a look at The Brownhills Shopping and Business Guide to see what Brownhills has to offer.
    The outline plan for the new Tesco Store shows a market/reception area opposite Pier Street. You would think that Tesco/Walsall Council would utilise this to generate a good will factor and encourage local events and markets/car boots to be held there such as seen at Penkridge. I’m talking about the plot of land fenced off between Kwick Fit and my shop. I’ve been informed that the grass area between Pier Street and the fenced off area also belongs to Tesco, so why does Walsall Council mow the grass?
    For some reason the council had demolished the building on the old market area – why?

    What’s happened to the shop smart shop local?
    I’m a local independent trader and very concerned about the future of Brownhills. I find it so frustrating. Why are local people so unsupportive of their High Street?

    Regards
    Susan Tirgu
    The Furniture Store (The Pine Shop)
    72 High Street
    Brownhills
    Walsall
    WS8 6EW

  9. Ms Hazel Louise Brooks says:

    If you came from the south as I do you`d realise a very good reason for not wanting to go to the little shops any more – nuff said.

  10. Mart says:

    Who owns the land Brownhills market used to be on? Surely the Land is not achieving any remuneration standing Idle? It should be reinstated. The German Market In Birmingham created a Huge interest. Why can’t We do something similar in Brownhills. At least an Organic market on a certain Day. It could be open 7 Days a week with various Niche Ideas.
    I was told By a resident on The Silver Waters Estate that the residents were asked what would be the best Use of the Land and they unanimously said Housing. The recycle bins were removed because of the noise nuisance, they were also sick of Boy racers donuting around the carpark at 2am. They definitely did not want some sort of leisure facility in their quiet residential area. Hey atleast You can meet the new members of the Brownhills community. You can literally look into their front window as You pass By!
    Walsall Council can slap a compulsory purchase order on Ravenscourt unless it is reinstated as a fully functioning retail space. We can’t look to Tesco to rebuild the community of Brownhills. Might even be an Idea to boycott the store until some changes are made. It is upto the People of Brownhills to get what they want in their neighbourhood.

    • Good luck opening a market there 1 day a week, let alone 7. It was tried twice and failed. There simply isn’t the footfall these days.

      The land the Watermead was built on was given over from greenspace on the proviso that the land where Silver Waters is was used for leisure for the whole community. What the residents of the new estate wanted should have been measured against the wider community. They weren’t unanimous, either, but that’s by the by.

      Boy racers and recycle bins. Not clear on the connection. The recycle bins were removed due to lack of use; they disappeared after we had a recycling collection. The clothes bank comes and goes.

      Walsall Council can slap a compulsory purchase order on most things. But good luck with that – what are they going to do with it? 100 million cuts over five years, selling property like it’s a firesale, and you think they’ll CPO Ravens Court? Wow.

      Then you say we can’t look to Tesco, but should boycott them until changes are made. Eh?

      Without external investment we’re stuffed.
      Bob

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  19. Steve myatt says:

    Bob. Im trying to get pictures of lichfield rd around 1900 /1920 as i live disn there. I do know geoff harrington with yhe archives. Any chance.

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