The end of a nightmare, or just another false dawn?

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Ravens Court is a mess: not just physically, but historically and legally. Image by Pete Hummings.

Right you people – this will be brief as I have no concrete information, and I’m massively sceptical, but here goes – in the last few days a planning application has been submitted for the demolition and replacement of the majority of Ravens Court, to be replaced by two larger retail units and a gym.

Before we get excited, there is absolutely zero detail on line at the Walsall Council website yet (they take a few days to scan and post the documents) and this is ONLY A PLANNING APPLICATION. A planning application is just that; it first of all has to be approved, then it’s up to whoever submitted it to act upon it. Granting planning permission does not mean a thing will get built.

I can point to at least six planning applications for developments along Brownhills High Street that were granted, but never got built. So proceed with scepticism. Applying for planning permission could just be part of the chess game between Walsall Council and the owners of Ravens Court who have so far failed to clean up the derelict precinct, and who may well be facing legal action forcing them to do so.

Right, that having been said, all we have at the moment is the following:

Application Number: 17/1131
Proposal: Part demolition of existing retail units and erection of 2 x A1 retail units with storage and gym at first floor and car parking and service area to the rear.
Site Address: SHOPPING PRECINCT AT, RAVENS COURT, BROWNHILLS, WALSALL, WS8 6EJ
Application Type: Full Application

Applicant Details

Full Name or Company Name: Mr Schwimmer 
Company Contact Name: 
Address: Lightquote Limited, 22 Braydon Road, London, N16 6QB 

Agent Details

Full Name or Company Name: Mr Robert Pomery 
Company Contact Name: 
Address: Pomery Planning Consultants Ltd, Pappus House, Tollgate West, Stanway, Colchester, CO3 8AQ 

A link to the application on Walsall Council’s Planning System can be found here – it’s currently empty, awaiting posted documents. I expect that to be populated in coming days.

This application I suspect is the realisation of something that’s been floating around for about three years now and that’s why I’m a bit suspicious. For a long time, there have been ads on property websites pop up for retail units in Brownhills, with a very poor artist’s impression of the precinct truncated beyond the shoe shop and card shop, with two units built almost immediately behind.

A thoroughly awful artist’s impression from an ad that’s been circulating a while. Click for a larger version.

The above advert can be seen here at CoStar Shopproperty – registration required, but free.

Note the artist’s impression has the scale horribly distorted, and in those drawings, there is no upstairs apparent. The prices quoted are… interesting.

Technically the impressions were flawed, and other sources have been talking (notably, sales material for other leased properties in the High Street) about this ‘development’ with one unit ‘Under offer to Poundworld’. When I enquired with the company, they said they knew nothing about any such offer.

Then, an application was made on 30th May 2017 to refurbish the old Natwest Bank unit on the edge of Ravens Court – see the full application here. That contained a very interesting drawing – listed as ‘Superseded location plan 18-5-2017’ – here’s the original document, and the important bit below. Notice the lower unit is marked ‘Poundland’ not ‘Poundworrld’.

Note that it was superseded by a plan showing the current Ravens Court. Heaven knows what was going on there…

As a technical plan goes, this is nothing but shapes on a map. There is very little detail here at all. Click for a larger version.

Then, as several readers have pointed out, this sale particular for the row of shops where Costa is on the High Street, being sold as an investment property (i.e. tenants unaffected) appeared on Rightmove some weeks ago. See the particular here, but the key paragraph is below:

This could just be Estate Agents and their reality distortion field. Click for a larger version.

SITUATION

The property is situated in a prime location on the busy High Street being close to other retailers such as Shoe Zone, Greggs, Post Office, Card Factory, Aldi, Wilkos, Tesco, and Thomas Cook. Directly opposite the property is Ravens Court Centre where there are re-development proposals to create two 8,000 sq. ft. units, one of which we understand is under offer to Poundworld and will further strengthen this busy suburban location.

Note the retailer is now ‘Poundworld’ – Chinese whispers or what?

A planning application has to be positive, and I hope it will lead to action, and I support it wholly. There is no reason why it would not be granted, and I hope this is the beginning of the end to this whole sorry saga, older than this blog and pushing a decade in length; but we’ve had many false dawns before and there’s stuff here I’m not comfortable about yet.

Stay tuned, more info as I have it. Feel free to comment here or mail me – BrownhillsBob at Googlemail for com. I’d appreciate your thoughts.

 

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2 Responses to The end of a nightmare, or just another false dawn?

  1. Edwina. says:

    Just what Brownhills needs – another gym. But I suppose anything is better than is what is there now. Walsall Council will grant planning permission I am sure, do they ever refuse anything I wonder?

    • Bloody hell Edwina ‘Another gym’ – yes, I can’t get down the High Street for the five we’ve got already!

      Wait, what?

      You’d suck the joy out of a rice pudding. Yes, Walsall regularly refuse stuff. They could always refuse this – but then you’d only have the same old stuff to grumble about!

      Cheers
      Bob

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