Aspirational my backside

I noticed in early summer that someone had been undertaking clearance work on a site near Brownhills, just down the Chester Road to the south of Shire Oak Nature Reserve, and was curious about it. It now seems that my question has been answered.


What lay beyond these gates for years was an empty and overgrown expanse of hardstanding.

An application has been submitted to Walsall Council (14/0910/FL) whose jurisdiction the site just about falls within, to build four ‘aspirational’ (read large and expensive) houses on what is described as ‘Former block works site, south Of 370 Chester Road, Walsall’. It’s quite clear that the developers – who don’t own the land concerned – and the Authority are expecting a battle over this.

It’s an odd application.

In the trees on Chester Road, just between the rear of the houses on Castlehill Road and and the next house further up, there is a patch of old hardstanding in what I think was a former quarry. It’s been overgrown for years, and is accessed from a pair of metal gates pictured above.

Untitled 8

The site is a curios place – I think a former quarry. the trees beyond the hardstanding are concealing pretty steep rises to the surrounding land. Imagery from Bing! Maps.

The application submitted is to build four large houses and garages where the hardstanding is, enclosed within the former quarry site, forming a close, accessed from where the gate is now.

The site is in green belt, and is restricted by a number of things, including close proximity to a listed building. I would imagine vehicle access from the Chester Road will be an issue.

The developers are obviously prepared for a scrap, and this Planning Statement is well worth a read – it cites extensively the public enquiry over an application from 2006 for a ten-house development further down the Chester Road, which Walsall Council refused, the refusal being overturned on appeal.

Site Plan

The proposed development consists of four large houses and garages in the floor of the quarry, with the entrance where the gates are now. Image from planning documents. Click for a larger version.

I’m featuring this issue here for two reasons – the first is I think it could be interesting to watch purely due to the mechanics of the planning process, and I’d be interested in the comments particularly of Andy Dennis, who I know to be an expert on such things.

Secondly, what is the history of this site?

I’ve spoken to a few people, and none seem to be able to remember the ‘block works’ at all. Can anyone remember it?

As an application, I’ve no particularly strong feelings about it, but it does seem rather opportunistic, and I don’t swallow the bull about a lack of ‘aspirational housing in Walsall ‘ which is claimed ‘…would assist with the retention of entrepreneurs within the Borough’.

On that score, this ‘aspirational’ horseshit is being used a lot lately. The Plastic Hippo isn’t having any truck with it, either.

The simple fact is that this is technically a brownfield site – one previously used for industry – which can be theoretically preferentially developed, but to do so they need to get over some tough hurdles.

I shall be keeping an eye on this to see how it progresses. All the documents submitted with the application can be viewed from the links below.

I welcome reader views on this. Comment here, or BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

Application Form.pdf
Arboricultural Survey and Method Statement.pdf
Design and Access Statement.pdf
Ecological Appraisal.pdf
Notice Letter – 15-07-14.pdf
Notice Under Article 11 – 15-07-14.pdf
Photographs of the Application Site.pdf
Planning Statement.pdf
Plot 1 Floor Plans and Elevations.pdf
Plot 2 Floor Plans and Elevations.pdf
Plot 3 Floor Plans and Elevations.pdf
Plot 4 Floor Plans and Elevations.pdf
SAC Statement.pdf
Site Check Review – 01-08-14.pdf
Site Location Plan.pdf
Site Plan.pdf
Site Survey.pdf

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12 Responses to Aspirational my backside

  1. woodlandway says:

    Hi Bob, I remember some years ago now, maybe 8 or 9, having walked the dog around FishPond Wood or Bluebell Wood on the opposite side of the Chester Road I carried on down a little and crossed over and through some gates, although I think they were further down (I’ll pop up today and have a closer look) than the ones you photographed recently The area under concern was a very large concrete pad, it was flat and had on the floor signs of old walls, probably partition walls, that had been fixed to the base, I got the impression, not knowing anything of the history of the place that it was maybe offices or something! Thinking back I can’t remember anything being there or visible anyway from the Chester Road although I can only go back to the mid 70’s!
    all the best

  2. sox123 says:

    Bob, I think you were just trying to be nice. Tell it like it is and say ARSE !

  3. Tony Winn says:

    Hi Bob, I may of dreamt it, but I think this site was a road side cafe about 45 – 50 years ago. I have a vague recollection of seeing lorries frequently parked outside of the building that was once there.

    • Peter says:

      Hi Tony, there was a roadside Cafe on that stretch of the Chester Road you’re right about that, but I believe it was further up towards Brownhills. The roadside Cafe that I remember was before the quarry entrance but on the opposite side just before the first house as you straighten out before the traffic lights at Shire Oak Junction, I’m sure Bing Maps will probably still have it on their radar, although it was fairly run down the house / building still stood for many years after it closed, until it was eventually demolished maybe 10 years ago now?

      • The cafe was on the now empty enclosed square at the end of the row of houses from shire oak to Stonnall, on the right.

        It may have been run by Sid Cohen? Maybe. Our generation calle dit Greasy Lil’s. Closed in the 90s.

        Demolished around 2009.

        There is planning permission there for something, can’t recall what but probably flats (system is offline so can’t check at the moment)

  4. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    Aspirational indeed…and prices that will take your breath away perhaps!
    This former sand hole and world war 2 is mentioned by Len Jones in the blog article, Tanking Along, 29/9/2011
    .the transport cafe was further up the road toward Shire Oak traffic lights ,see blog article the Quarrymen etc
    I wonder if there are any local historians who can shed light on this particular site with possible reference to forts,and all. I am not aware of it ever being a block making site, just a derelict spent sand hole.
    This stretch of road is where heavy lorries and other road users have to start changing down through their gears to begin their struggle up the hill, I understand.
    Aspirational..gross verbal overuse:goes well with ” surface dressing ”
    Pass the mustard


  5. tkevcro says:

    Hi All,
    The Cafe was further down the road opposite the quarry,used to go there in mid 70’s

  6. Chris says:
    The link is to the National Library of Scotlands’ digitisation of the O.S. 1947 6″ series. It shows there was nothing on the site in the immediate post-war period.

  7. Google Earth timeline has a 1945 image which shows what appears to be a quarry hole.

    • Peter says:

      Spot on Barry, there is certainly something there, as you say, that appears to be an open wound on the landscape, I looked at the surrounding area as you have done from 1945 and it seems whilst the “hole” is a lot smaller than the ones further up the Chester Road towards Shire Oak it is a very similar………
      Today though there is a huge concrete pad which to me looked as if it was a floor of a factory, warehouse or similar as it had historical markings on the surface of the pad that would indicate internal walls…………
      Would love to hear more…….

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