So, what's the latest…
January 25th 2015
The developments on Sites A and C have been completed and transfer of the allotments and garages under the Section 106 are underway so it was agreed to officially dissolve the Group. This web site will remain active for reference purposes.
May 4th 2014
Grainger's Centenary Film. I make no comment.
March 5th 2014
The council seemed to have cocked up their new subscription service for green waste. Bags and wheelie bins were supposed to have been delivered by February 28th in time for the first collection on March 5th but many are still waiting. If you are one of those frustrated gardeners and get no joy contacting the council direct, please contact Councillor James McKay who will sort things out.
October 30th 2013
How many residents live in the C19th without internet access? From my conversations at the recent coffee morning - quite a few. Not only does this deprive them of the obvious benefits of internet access such as illegal downloads and porn but, more fundamentally, day-to-day stuff such as fixing lower energy costs and getting early day discounts on the Council's green bag rip-off. Which is how the conversation began.
With energy prices escalating through the sterling work of the big six cartel, the Heritage Trust will be offering a service to people without internet access to run comparisons for them for electricity and gas. The idea will be to set up a network of internet adepts, say one or two per street, around the estate, so that it would simply be a matter of dropping in on a neighbour with details of current usage and costs and run these through a comparison site such as uSwitch.
If there is a significant saving then a small donation to the Heritage Trust may be in order.
Seems like an excellent idea to me. From my personal experience, both commercially and at home, the saving could be pretty significant.
If anyone would like to help with this, or knows of a neighbour who may benefit, please contact me.
October 8th 2013
The following is reproduced from an e-mail circular and really says it all:
Community Facilities Handed Over by Banner Homes
On Tuesday 2nd October a ceremonial hand over took place at Winterbourne House in which a number of the community facilities owned by Banner Homes were handed over to the Moor Pool Heritage Trust. These comprise the garages at the Spinney, all the Moor Pool allotments, the Orchard and land for the community garden at the bottom of Margaret Grove. These community assets had been sold to Banner Homes by Grainger as part of the land sale of the areas which now have new housing on them.
This is the first time that these assets will have been back under the control of Moor Pool residents since Harborne Tennants was sold to a private property developer in the 1990’s. They were returned to the MPHT by the kindness and cooperation of Banner Homes who have understood and supported our mission for residents control of our local amenities. We thank them for their involvement and support. Photos of the ceremony can be seen here.
This is the first step in the mission of the MPHT to acquire all of the community facilities on Moor Pool. Because these facilities were included in the 106 agreement, they have only cost us the legal costs of their transfer to the Trust. This has to be carried out properly as these lands are spaced all over the Estate and the Trust must ensure their ownership is free of any problems.
The remainder of the facilities - including the hall, shops, community sporting facilities must be bought from Grainger; this is why we are launching a large fundraising campaign to raise £325K by next September. This is ambitious but it is a once in a lifetime opportunity to preserve and secure our community facilities. We shall need everyones help to do this. The Trustees are looking at various ways to raise this £325K but it's important that we raise a large part of it locally if we are to expect to secure grant support as well.
Volunteers are urgently needed so please contact us on email@example.com if you can help in any way.
You can donate right now to the fund by pledging to buy a virtual brick. Anyone who donates more than £100 will have their name inscribed on a memorial feature to be placed either in the hall , community garden or other public space. You can pledge to buy a virtual brick – or door or window – at www.moorpoolfundraising.co.uk.
The other way to earn money for MPHT without it costing you a penny is to sign up for Give as You Live at http://www.giveasyoulive.com/join/moorpool or EasyfundRaising at http://www.easyfundraising.org.uk/causes/moorpool. Whenever you do any online shopping please check if your shop will give a donation to MPHT.
Please give generously so that we can take this last opportunity to secure once and for all the community facilities in local community ownership.
March 3rd 2013
According to a recent press article, the Council are planning a £30 additional charge for 'green' waste collection. So, on top of forcing wheelie bins on us they now intend to charge us over and above the Council Tax for the privilege. This 'Garden Tax' is hardly likely to increase recycling rates which is one of their main arguments for introducing the things in the first place. It is more likely that garden waste will end up in the general refuse or be fly tipped in the nearest skip.
More links and press coverage here.
February 16th 2013
There was a meeting on February 13th with James McKay, Amey and the Highways Dept on the corner of Ravenhurst Rd and Park Edge to demonstrate dimming of the LED lights. Full details are on the MRA web site but the the upshot was that the highways dept quoted guidelines (which they claimed were really regulations) out-trumped the Moor Pool Management Plan (which they claimed were only guidelines) and although heritage lights could be fitted, they had to be perched on the top of the current posts. They also played the H&S card with a final flourish.
Clearly these would look totally ridiculous. We need street lights to walk safely, not to play scrabble in the middle of the night. While the old lighting was pretty gloomy I see no reason why heritage lights cannot be fitted on lower posts as they have been elsewhere.
The highways dept have invited comments by post or e-mail by March 15th although I have my reservations on how much notice they will take of this. Please send you comments to firstname.lastname@example.org and on the blog.
January 29th 2013
Some more thoughts...
A standard wheelie bin has a capacity of 240 litres, which is approximately three standard 85 litre dustbins, and weighs 14kg. If press reports are correct then the Council are proposing three of these per household which will give a footprint of 1.6 sq. meters (or 1.745 cu meters) to find storage for. These calculations do not include any additional width for the wheels which, incidentally, are 200mm diameter.
It takes longer to empty wheelie bins. Rob Sutton has timed an average of 20 seconds per bin. Taking Margaret Grove as an example, there are 80 houses so a wagon would take some 26 minutes to empty a single set of bins - on a narrow one way road during the morning rush hour. Presumably the recycling collection would exacerbate this situation.
Taking many of my neighbours as example, they store their dustbins in their back gardens and drop the black bag(s) on the kerbside on collection morning as rear access is either difficult or non-existent. The current handy recycling tubs are stored either in a porch or outhouse. Are they now expected to store three large wheelie bins in their back gardens with the assocaited obstruction and, at times, smell, and, if so, how are they to be delivered to the roadside? Or even got into their gardens in the first place?
Overall, for many of us, we can safely say that Wheelie Bins are rubbish.
What do you think? Comments on our blog are welcome.
January 28th 2013
BCC are conducting a "consultation" on wheelie bins. This was originally planned on the basis of whether people wanted them at all, but was postponed to await the outcome of the central government grant application, and the current consultation is diluted on the basis of the fait accompli of obtaining the grant.
It is quite clear that the majority of terraced houses on the estate would have insufficient space to store these (up to three apparently) and if they were forced upon us then they would no doubt litter the pavements for want of either storage and/or the will to trundle them around.
I wonder, therefore, if this consultation is being conducted with much zeal as it may? I have not received a letter and would question how many others have also not been asked their opinion? If you have not yet received a consultation letter from BCC then please e-mail James McKay and ask why. He is not only one of our local councillors, but the one responsible for managing this proposal.
December 6th 2012
The motivation for the millennium dome that Severn Trent want to bury in the allotments is becoming obscure. The original plan presented to residents also included new drainage down Park Edge but it is now uncertain that this will happen. If this is the case, who benefits from this tank other than the new development on Site A? If so, surely this has already been addressed by Banner and accepted by the planning department.
The residents, and the varied groups representing them, fought hard for every square inch of those retained allotments. STW now seem to be trying to play a corporate trump card and disregard this and the 106 agreements to take a considerable area for reasons that are becoming increasingly difficult to grasp. It seems reasonable that, if this has to happen, then some form of recompense should be made to the community for this further loss of green space.
The Heriitage Trust, strongly supported by the MRG, are currently talking to them to see how they intend to respond to this not unresonable request.
December 5th 2012
Amey have finally got around to filling in the holes they dug for their floodlights and removing barriers that have been creating pinch points for wheelchairs and prams for the last few weeks. However, rather than making good it has been noticed by some that the fill has largely been hard-core with only a thin film of top soil. As for reseeding the grass verge, it's anyone's guess.
November 30th 2012
Bough gone. Together with another mature tree from Site A that should still be there. Whoops! The planning dept are asking them to plant replacements. It is to be hoped that these are semi-mature and not the ambitious wannabes available from garden centres. Probably all the work of the same gang that decided digging up the BT lines on Site C and plunging most of that side of Margaret Grove back to the dark ages for a couple of days was a good jape.
November 11th 2012
Banner are proposing the removal of an overhanging bough from the large oak tree at the entrance to Site C to facilitate vehicle access. However, this bough forms a considerable proportion of the tree and its removal will not only significantly change the profile but may well destabilise it. As the garage demolition has been carried out with the tree untouched, presumably smaller vehicles can be used which may inconvenience Banner but is no excuse for vandalising this fine old tree. I have registered an objection with the tree preservation officer on behalf of the MRG and individuals may wish to do the same. His name is, ironically, Richard Wood.
November 10th 2012
For those of you who are totally hacked off with the totally inappropriate floodlights that Amey are installing around the estate, to say nothing of blocked pavements, the contact to complain is Gregory Allwood. The full ongoing saga is on the MRA web site and a blog been set up to enable residents to share their comments, concerns and issues.
October 9th 2012
A letter from Severn Trent explains how they intend to alleviate flooding issues in The Circle, Moorpool Avenue and the Valley Site. This involves a new sewer in Park Edge and a tank under the allotments in Site A. This appears to be proceeding without consultation with residents or refernce to the planning department or the Section 106 agreements with Banner. The outline plan can be viewed here.
Members of the MRA, MRG and MPHT have spent many hours talking to Banner Homes and the Planning Department discussing the finer points of the 106 agreement, much of which has revolved around retention and restoration of the allotments that Grainger has allowed to fall into disuse. Presumably the flooding issues Severn Trent allude to have not suddenly arisen and the more cynical among us may suggest that these have been ignored until a developer with a need to obtain easement as a part of the planning process can be coerced into paying a significant proportion of the costs that would otherwise have fallen on STW alone if they were doing their job.
This tank they are proposing is, apparently, 7.5m in diamenter and 13m deep. To put this into perspective, it is fractionally larger than a single-decker bus. On it's end. Of course.
September 10th 2012
It appears that issues have surfaced about drainage and sewerage on the development sites which also have implications on the wider estate and beyond. Details are a little unclear at the moment and Banner are in talks with Severn Trent, but there have apparently been potential issues for some time which have not been adressed but have now been spotlighted by the developments.
The current Moorpool Estate Sewer Record is available and any news will be posted here as and when known.
July 16th 2012
Planning Application for Banner's revised proposals have been approved subject to conditions.No great surprise there then..
July 13th 2012
Copies of the signed Section 106 Agreements are now available on the Development page.
July 11th 2012
Demolition of the garages on Sites A and C commenced this week following last weeks preparations, including removal of the asbestos roofing, and some residents have raised concerns on the method to be adopted. Banner have issued an Asbestos Removal Method Statement. In addition, the site office is open and the site manager Steve Smith is happy to discuss any issues with residents if they want to go and see him. Can't say fairer than that.
April 3rd 2012
From the March Moorpool Duck:
The MRG was established in 2007 to oppose Grainger’s development of open spaces within the Estate. This it did with considerable energy and support from many residents who gave their time, expertise, and not inconsiderable sums of money. The campaign was backed by press coverage, our MP, most local councillors and august bodies such as English Heritage. Despite this, the planning committee approved the application in 2009 and the judicial review that followed failed to overturn the decision.
The MRG maintains its opposition to any development within an enhanced conservation area but also needs to be pragmatic. Now that Grainger have opened the door, any revised application will undoubtedly be nodded through and we need to consider what benefits residents may be able to salvage from the sorry mess. Banner’s current application is very much more sympathetic to the Estate’s original design principles (or as much as any new development can be) and they have listened to resident’s views and taken these into account as their plans have evolved. Furthermore, they are not only prepared to stand by the original s106 agreement but are willing to carry out additional work on clearing allotments and start work on the planned community garden. They have also indicated that they are prepared to pass ownership of the allotments, garages and other open spaces to the Moor Pool Heritage Trust.
This offers significant benefits to residents that Grainger did not, and, provided these can be formalised within a s106 or similar legal agreement, feel a campaign of opposition similar to the one five years ago will achieve nothing other than to sour the current relationship with Banner from which the whole Estate can benefit.
April 2nd 2012
As an update, Banner have also submitted applications for the other two sites, Site C (Ravenhurst Road), and Site Ei (Wentworth Gate). These are available on the Planning Dept Web Site and the Development page.
March 28th 2012
Banner have submitted their planning application for Site A (The Valley Site) and my thanks to John Alden for advising us of this. I foolishly thought this was the job of the planning department.
The planning reference is 2012/01434/PA and is availablke from the planning web site through this link. If, however, like me, you find their web site unpredictable and impossible to navigate sensibly, they are also available from this site on the Development page.
March 25th 2012
Eviction Day for the garages (unless anyone has been able to successfully argue a special case). Be prepared for even more congested parking on the Estate, and a ripple effect from overspills to all areas.
If you have left any stuff in your old garage that you no longer want or have space to store, and it may be on use to someone else or to the MPHT, then please let people know through the Recycle facility on the Fundraising web site.
January 17th 2012
Like most of you, I received a flyer through my letterbox yesterday evening which, reading round the spelling and grammatical errors, confirmed that the Moor Pool character appraisal had finally been adopted by BCC. This, you may recall, was the appraisal produced in draft some 14 months ago for public consultation which was then not heard of again until the MRA started pushing for its final publication.
The flyer suggests that it has only now emerged from what could have been its final resting place due to campaigning by John Alden and Mike Whitby, while ignoring similar efforts by Gisella Stuart and James McKay, but that's politics I suppose.
But hang on a minute! Mike Whitby is head of the Council. So why would he need to campaign? Surely a barked command into the right office would be more than adequate. Something I'm quite sure he is more than capable of. That being the case, why was there no barking earlier?
January 16th 2012
After a series of e-mails flying between Banner, the MRG and MRA, the plans shown on December 19th are finally on their site. The publicised link at www.bannerhomes.co.uk/moorpool still appears largely broken but they are available at www.bannerhomes.co.uk/consultation/harborne/proposals.
Banner do seem to be listening to comments by residents, which is a refreshing change, and say that, when they have incorporated these into their plans and have spoken to the planning department, will also make these available through their web site before being formally submitted for planning approval. There is no indication of the time scale for this.
December 26th 2011
A week later and the link given below and on their well distributed flyer is still not live. I e-mailed them before Christmas and was told the marketing team were working on it. However, a basic outline and some street scenes are available at www.bannerhomes.co.uk/consultation/harborne. Hopefully the promised full plans will become available when they have recovered from the seasonal festivities.
December 18th 2011
On December 19th, Banner Homes will be holding a public display and consulation with residents on their revised plans for the development of the three sites. This will be in the main Hall between 6pm and 9:30pm. Details will be on their web site at www.bannerhomes.co.uk/moorpool on or soon after this date.
October 26th 2011
There appear to be a number of different leases that have been applied to the garages over the years. If you have one of the older leases from Harborne Tenants or BPT then you may have reason to challenge the termination notice.
This means that the notice period of between three and six months must expire on the next quarter day (which is when the rents are due). The current notices do not. Five months notice would be required to expire on the next available quarter day which is March 25th 2012. In this instance you may wish to challenge the termination notice.
This is an annual periodic tenancy with no landlord's break right and, under common law rules, they have to give six months notice to end it, and the notice has to expire at the end of the period (ie the anniversary of the original agreement). Again, you have grounds on which you may wish to challenge the termination notice.
Clearly these grounds for challenging the termination notices only apply if you have also kept to your side of the agreement by, for example, paying your rent on time and only using the garages for the stipulated purposes. Even if you feel the notice has been properly served, or have no desire to challenge it, then there is no obligation to return the 'consent' form that has been asked for as this effectively relinquishes any rights you may have which you may subsequently wish to exercise.
October 25th 2011
Notices of termination of garage tenancies have been issued by Robert Powell acting under instruction from Banner Homes. They have also asked for an acknowledgment and acceptance form to be returned. Before taking any action I would strongly advise anyone in receipt of such a notice to first refer to their original lease to ensure that it is accordance with the terms in respect of both the period of notice and when it may be properly given. Even if it should be, I cannot imagine that there is any legal obligation to return such an acceptance.
August 9th 2011
Bournville Village Trust is like Moorpool in many ways. Both were built in the early years of the last century by men of foresight. Both were bold social experiments in their time aiming to raise the living standards of ordinary people. And both are now in need of TLC to preserve their character while continuing to enrich the lives of their residents. It was, therefore, interesting to read the article in yesterday's Birmingham Mail reporting BVT's investment in its housing stock by replacing rotting wooden doors and windows with PVC-U.
This raises two important issues.
The first, of course, is that it's very welcome to hear that BVT are investing in their housing stock and show consideration to both their tenants and the need to make housing more energy efficient in these environmentally conscious times of global weather change and spiralling energy costs. A lesson that Grainger could well take heed of judging from the dilapidated state of the tenanted properties on Moorpool that it has not yet sold.
The second is for Birmingham City Council. The Article 4(2) status of the estate has done residents no favours whatsoever, requiring them to apply for planning permission for the most mundane improvements and maintenance while doing nothing to prevent property developers, both big and small, riding roughshod over the system. And stopping this was precisely the basis on which it was sold to us. While BVT accept the need for compromise between the character of an area and the quality of life for its residents, BCC with their very much delayed character appraisal suggest that Moorpool residents should be prepared to pay the price of living where they do with a reduced standard of living, shivering behind wooden window frames with secondary glazing, while at the same time allowing new homes to be built and (quite rightly) insisting on incorporating modern energy conservation materials and techniques.
July 24th 2011
All the sites have been sold pre-auction.
You will have already heard that the new Moorpool Heritage Trust managed to acquire the Builder's Yard. The remaining sites (A, C and Ei) have all been sold to Banner Homes. These sales are all, presumably, subject to contract.
It remains to be seen what the new owners propose. To stay with Grainger's approved plans, or to make alternative applications, and how receptive they will prove to be in discussing the non-commercial assets acquired as part of the deal (mainly allotments and small garage plots) to the MHT.
And, of course, the outcome of the grant funding to acquire the communal assets remaining before the September auction.
June 9th 2011
From the Residents' Association Web Site:
Moor Pool Auctions set for 21st July
We have been advised by Grainger that the auction of the various community assets is still set for the 21st July 2011. This will include what Grainger term both Community and Commercial. The committee have been working hard over the last few months to assess the viability of taking the community assets into a local Trust and this has included an in-depth look at costs to bring the Moor Pool Hall up to date and also to determine what actually would be transferred. Meetings have been held with many suppliers and contractors as well as the Council to determine ownership and responsibility for paths and open spaces. The scale and maintenance cost for the open space is likely to be onerous and with negligible income, highly difficult to support. We have also been taking legal advice on the nature of a Trust and supported by our local Councillors Mike Whitby, John Alden and James McKay have been awarded a further £7000 from community funds to set up the Trust. After further meetings and discussions, an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund will be made this month and this is likely to be in the region of £600,000 - £700,000.
Unfortunately we shall not know the result of this for some time and certainly not before the 21st July. We have made strenuous efforts to secure income bearing assets as part of the Trust portfolio to support acquisition costs or loans. One of our biggest concerns is the uncertainty for the future of the allotments, orchard and site B which will pass into the ownership of the developer if the sale is successful on the 21st July. To try and resolve this serious problem which has been caused by the planning consent conditions and at the same time secure the builders yard amongst other matters, we made the following proposition:
Suggested Basis for Amendment.
The linkage of planning condition to the planning permissions effectively locks ownership of the allotments, Orchard, Site B and garages to the owners of the sites. As these sites are to be auctioned the future ownership is unknown.
The restoration of the allotments is thus delayed until building starts and although the MRA and Grainger have consulted together with BCC to ascertain if restoration works by the Moor Pool Allotment Association could begin in advance; this seems to be not possible. Other alternatives would be to put in place an agreement for ownership after the transfer and restoration conditions have been met.
In the absence of such an agreement the MRA would like to make the following alternative proposals.
For Grainger, the removal of the conditions would make the sites more saleable, valuable and the development timescale more flexible.
For residents, the retention of the open spaces gives certainty, opportunity for increased use by the local and nearby community, as well as income for a Trust.
The certainty of future ownership also reduces the problems which will arise if the proper future management of the open spaces does not take place.
This is a broad proposal and both Grainger and our legal advisor would need to discuss detail. However discussion with BCC could start immediately to see if there is scope on their part for such an amendment. There is limited risk to Grainger from the short delay but potentially greater gain.
Unfortunately up to this point the Council planning department's position has proved inconclusive despite interest and willingness to consider by Grainger. If some ground could or can be brokered on these proposals a full residents meeting would be called to consider and vote whether there was support or not. Cllr Alden now Chair of the Ward Committee has been fully briefed on the problem and will be seeing if the proposal can be given some urgency. It seems contrary to the aspirations of Big Society that potential for a deal between residents and a developer cannot be given full support.
The last thing anyone wants is the problem of allotments falling back into decay and further development applications igniting problems in the future. The destruction of allotments is likely to prove inflammatory enough without that.
Despite these problems we continue to look at ideas for converting the builder's yard to an eco study centre and a team are looking at funding and a business plan. Harborne Primary School have expressed great interest although with the recent fire their main focus naturally has been to get the school up and running again.
Meanwhile our fundraising committee are in full swing. Funds are already flowing in, with a number of substantial donations including several of £500. This is superb but to meet our target of £200,000 we will need a sustained programme over 12-18months. That's why small events, donations and the change bottles are so important. As examples Jan Scott's garden party raised £148. Meanwhile 11 year old Alex Millicheap and Sydney running the 100 club and selling cakes at the Coffee morning have raised £380 - a magnificent achievement from these two youngsters! Another £95 was raised selling a sofa for a resident on eBay so if you have any items let us know. We now have a dedicated fundraising website which you can access here. Please have a look and check out the forthcoming events and the skillsbank where you can buy and sell services. And of course you can send us money...
Yet another sad day for the historic garden suburb. The auction is being conducted by Bigwwod on Thursday 21st July and the preliminary particulars are available here.
And so, despite all the hard work put in by so many people, and most notably Rob who has worked tirelessly on behalf of the Estate, Grainger are plunging forward with their predictable single-minded focus on short term profit, despite their 'Ethos' paying lip-service to 'Investing in Communities' and 'Responsibility to Stakeholders'. This narrow minded corporate greed is reflected not only around the current issues of inappropriate new development in an enhanced conservation area, but in the longer term neglect of the estate even extending to the lack of maintenance of their own rental housing stock (transparent to anyone walking the estate) which is eagerly disposed of at the earliest opportunity.
April 12th 2011
The newly formed Moorpool Fundraising Committee has clearly hit the ground running. Amongst a bevy of ideas is a Moorpool Skills Bank allowing residents to offer a variety of skills and services and others to buy them using Duckets as medium of exchange. Full details on the Moorpool Skills Bank web site.
March 19th 2011
Despite strong competition from a fine spring afternoon and rugby on television, there was an excellent turnout to the residents' meeting in the Main Hall to be updated on progress in establishing a Community Trusts.
It was most encouraging to hear the plans to take over areas of the estate which had been sorely neglected over the years and restore the integrity and purpose for which the Moor Pool Estate was first intended. These included restoration of the allotments, secure parking, a community park and an education centre on the builder's yard which could be used by local schools.
It was very clear that a great deal of time and thought had gone into these by the Residents' Association who were supported by a small but strong professional team to carry out a viability study to look at the future of the Estate, how this was to be financed, it's on-going sustainability and legal structure. It was also clear that more help will be needed as these plans evolve, so I would reiterate the request for any professionals (particularly solicitors, surveyors and architects at this stage) who can contribute some of their time to facilitate this to contact the Residents' Association.
This is clearly a very large project, in-line with current political thinking of greater community involvement, and will take some considerable time to finalise and draw up business plans for funding through grant bodies which themselves will also need time to consider. With this in mind it was very disappointing to hear that Grainger are placing an almost impossible time constraint on the process and threatening sale by public auction within a few months. This is clearly obstructive to a project that should be given every support and will, if successful, result in a Moor Pool Estate we can again be proud of and also give Grainger the financial return they feel they deserve.
The PowerPoint slides are available to review here, or, if you do not have PowerPoint, in Adobe Acrobat format. Both run to a couple of Mb each, so if you have a slow connection or on capped usage, you have been warned.
January 11th 2011
The draft character appraisal and management plan for the estate, originally scheduled for last January, and then postponed in anticipation of the elections, has finally emerged. Indeed, some may say it's over thirty years overdue anyway so what's another year or so?
Regardless of whether the delay is measured in years or decades, here it is - complete with a consultation period of just six weeks for residents to comment. Consultation days (well couple of hours actually) are on January 19th and 20th, tucked away mid-week for the convenience of all those who need to work. A letter is supposed to be going to all residents.
There is further comment on the Residents' Association web page and links to supporting documentation from English Heritage.
October 16th 2010
Those present at the Resident's Association AGM on Friday 15th will have heard from Councillor Whitby that Grainger are willing to dicuss the possibility of transferring control of the Moorpool Hall and other communal areas to the Residents.
Details of the exact proposal, and how it would be expected to operate, were vague at the time but will no doubt emerge as further meetings are held. When known, these will be communicated to all residents.
October 4th 2010
On Monday October 4th at 9:30pm a resident was subject to a car hijacking on Ravenhurst Road. Two men dragged her from her car and stole it together with her personal possessions. Our concern and sympathy go to the victim and it is to be hoped that she soon recovers from this ordeal (if that is at all possible). Naturally, if anyone witnessed this incident or has any knowledge which may help apprehend the culprits, then please contact the local police.
While it is to be hoped that this is a one-off incident and that the police will soon apprehend and imprison the offenders, it would clearly be wise for all residents to be alert, particularly with the winter nights drawing in.
July 24th 2010
Notice for partial demolition of garages on the Valley Site has been issued. Those bordering the site should have received notification by post, for those who did not, a copy is available here.
A number of conditions are detailed in the notice, particularly those relating to dealing with asbestos and wildlife. If any residents notice deviation from these conditions, then we would be pleased to hear from you.
June 18th 2010
The continued deterioration of the Valley Site has hit the press again. Like many things these days, the handling of asbestos is governed by a myriad of health & safety regulations but my understanding is that intact sheets offer little or no hazard, it is only when the substance is broken, releasing small carcinogenic particulates, that it becomes dangerous. The broken sheets left in the garages, referred to in the news article, offer a potential hazard but the recent fire in one of the garages backing onto the central allotments, which has scattered loose fibres across the site, offers a very real one.
The MRA have taken up the matter in their usual robust manner. The Council Environment team said they will not get involved, because the garages are owned by Grainger and it is their responsibility, although they do have statutory powers to enforce action. Grainger, of course, have done nothing, despite their lip service towards Corporate Responsibility.
March 25th 2010
The Residents' Association have produced a discussion document - An Alternative Way Forward - which was the basis of the discussions Rob Sutton had with Grainger which he expands in the latest Duck. While much more acceptable than Grainger's plans, it doesn't yet address the garaging/parking issues of the Estate which seems to get worse by the day. Comments on this are welcomed.
March 19th 2010
Many of the residents of Moorpool feel let down by Birmingham City Council. And not just by the cavalier and partisan way in which the planning committee approved Grainger’s applications.
There is the much-delayed Character Appraisal (arguably decades overdue), which may finally see the light of day later this year. By formally acknowledging the unique aspects and historic importance of the Estate, this would undoubtedly have strengthened our objections to Grainger’s plans and may even have prevented them. Even if it should finally appear in May, it is now too late to impact any development.
The enhanced conservation status of the 4(2) direction, which was enthusiastically supported by residents in the belief that it would prevent inappropriate development, has, in reality, done nothing of the sort. Not only has it allowed Grainger to gain permission to develop new housing at the heart of the estate, but seems to have a catch-all “permitted development” get-out clause that allows the unscrupulous do just about anything they please. The only people truly affected are the law-abiding wishing to paint their own front doors.
And, finally, of course, there is our local councillor, Mike Whitby, who, alone among our local and national political representatives, failed to raise a voice in support of residents.
However, you will read in the latest issue of the Duck, that Mr Whitby has committed to negotiate with the board of Grainger and to lead a Heritage Lottery Bid on our behalf to enable the Halls, Valley Site and other communal areas to be adopted into a Community Trust. While this project is still in it’s infancy, it is most welcome news.
The question, of course, is whether these are the desperate and hollow words of a politician due for re-election, or the actions of an experienced leader and negotiator who has been biding his time to act in the most effective way possible on behalf of his constituents?
March 10th 2010
We are in the process of moving the domain and web site for the Moorpool Residents' Association to a new host and server. While this should, theoretically anyway, be a seamless process, I have been in the business long enough to anticipate some lack of continuity. If, therefore, you cannot find www.moorpool.com at any time over the next week or two, then please go to www.harbornetenants.co.uk where the site is mirrored.
February 23rd 2010
The long awaited Character Appraisal may be nigh. The draft is almost complete, and, once approved by the Cabinet Member for Regeneration, there will be a six-week period of public consultation. However, with local election in May, and the strong possibility of a general election, it is likely this consultation period will not commence until these are out of the way.
January 23rd 2010
I'm not sure if the Highways Dept painted the one-way markings at the end of Margaret Grove with an eye on a Turner Prize, or they're cutting costs by using work experience kids practicing finger painting. Or perhaps they are just running low on paint. Either way, it's a bit of a mess!
January 1st 2010
A Happy New Year to you all.
Well, the signs are all off the new one-way system, and the arrow in Margaret Grove that was pointing the wrong way has been turned over by a council worker showing a total disrgard for the current health & safety frenzy by balancing on a rickety step ladder - which personally gives me some hope for the future.
I can also report that cars going along Margaret Grove are all driving one way only. Regretfully not all in the same direction but I'm sure Darwinian selection will sort this issue out after the Christmas break.
December 17th 2009
A message from Rob:
I have been advised by Bill Taylor from the Council that the weather has disrupted the repainting of road markings which needs a dry spell.
Technically the one way is now legal and the painting could happen at any time even over the weekend so please park the correct way round and be prepared for the direction change to take place.
Chair Moor Pool Residents Association.
So, as I understand it from this, it's a one way system that isn't yet, but could happen at any minute. Taking this nonsense one stage further, it could even happen as you are driving down the road, so that at the half-way point you then get nicked by some eagle-eyed bobby. What's next? Speed limits that change as you drive through the Gatso?
December 9th 2009
The one-way system in Margaret Grove/Moorpool Avenue is due to go live on Tuesday December 15th - assuming the weather's nice of course. Anyone who parks on the affected roads is advised to ensure their car is with the new direction of flow or be prepared for some pretty nify three-point turns in the morning. However, judging from when the sign covers blew off a few weeks ago because they'd only been attached with a couple of inches of sellotape, and the total disregard taken of them, I'd advise caution by every resident. I think it'll be a few days of fender bending and broken glass before the rat-runners get with the flow!
Update update or whenever
November 30th 2009
It is with great sorrow that I report that the application lodged for Judicial Review on October 7th was refused at Birmingham High Court on November 12th. This only goes to illustrate how the financial and political influence of big business can make a mockery of democracy. Gisela summed it up - "The builders won - the people lost"
November 3rd 2009
In the meantime, for our amusement and, no doubt, Grainger’s embarrassment, young Tim is in the news again with Eco-employee wins bid to appeal and Appeal on climate change 'belief'. Seems a bit rich to me that someone who led a campaign to concrete over allotments one week can turn eco-evangelist when he’s sacked. Flexible principles I suppose. much more...
October 21st 2009
Gisela's speech in Parliament on Conservation Areas and Character Appraisal together with the response from Barbara Follett. Hansard and video transmission. Gisela starts 1hr 23min into the recording.
Rob and Alastair were also able to attend. They're the ones either side of Gisela.
The builders won - the people lost Birmingham Post 22-Oct-2009.
MP hits out over Moor Pool Evening Mail 22-Oct-2009.
October 16th 2009
I am now able to confirm that proceedings were issued against Birmingham City Council on October 7th for the permission stage of the Judicial Review in the matter of planning consent on the Moorpool Estate. It is likely to be a month or two before the outcome of this is known. This has only been made possible by the overwhelming support given by residents of the estate.
That being said, we are still offering Bonds and need your continuing support to provide contingency for any unforeseen costs that may arise. As before, you can make a pledge by e-mail and we will arrange a visit, or simply pop a cheque made payable to Moorpool Residents' Association through the letterbox of 60 or 64 Margaret Grove and we will despatch your Bond to you.
October 14th 2009
For those waiting with bated breath to see if Grainger would overlook signing the 106 agreements to finalise planning consent by the due date of October 9th, then the suspense is suspended. It has come to light that the Council agreed to extend the deadline to October 30th. Do the phrases 'behind closed doors' and 'bending over backwards' spring to anyone else's mind I wonder.
October 6th 2009
In spite of the short notice and remote venue, the meeting on October 4th was an enormous success. I would like to give personal thanks to all those who attended and gave us such tremendous support, both moral and material, in our fight to save the estate. The MRG and MRA can now demonstrate in the most fundamental possible way that we have the backing of residents in this matter, despite accusations to the contrary by certain vested parties.
Nor was this support restricted to the Sunday morning as those unable to attend continued to purchase Bonds throughout the following days.
If there are others who were unable to attend the meeting on Sunday, and fear they may have missed the opportunity, then you will be relieved to hear that Bonds are still available. You can make a pledge by e-mail and we will arrange a visit, or simply pop a cheque made payable to Moorpool Residents' Association through the letterbox of 60 or 64 Margaret Grove and we will despatch your Bond to you.
If you feel that you want to help but £100 deters you, then why not club together with friends or neighbours. Again, I stress that all contributions are totally confidential. It's not too late to join the good fight!
We will, of course, keep everyone up-to-date with future developments. Watch this space...
September 28th 2009
You will all now be aware that Grainger’s proposals to build twelve new houses on the Valley Site, three on the Ravenhurst Road site and one on Wentworth Gate were approved by the planning committee on July 9th. These proposals eat at the heart of our estate, destroying garages and allotments and severely damaging the green spaces inherent to the original design of the estate. The astonishing decision to allow this development makes a mockery of the enhanced conservation status of the Moor Pool estate and sets a precedent for the future sale or development of other areas.
The current planning process does not allow for appeal against decisions. It does, however, allow the process by which such decisions are arrived at to be questioned. And it is this process of Judicial Review that the MRG have been exploring.
A Judicial Review would, if successful, overturn the council's decision to allow development. It must be said that, depending on the issues raised and won during this review, Grainger may be able to then lodge another planning application. However, we feel some of the fundamental issues that we are raising, may, if successful, prevent this. We have instructed solicitors specialising in planning and they have identified a number of areas where they feel the council has failed to adhere to due process. We are now obtaining opinion from a barrister as to the strength of our case before proceeding further.
The cost of this legal advice has, to date, been met by generous contributions from a small number of individual residents. However, if the barrister’s advice is that we have a strong case, then the legal costs and those of the necessary insurance cover to protect against liability should the proceedings turn against us, will require considerable additional funding. To this end we propose to offer bonds at the value of £100 to individuals (or groups of individuals) to fund these costs. If we are unable to raise this funding then we will not be able to proceed with the Judicial Review, which exhausts all legal options.
The money raised will be held by the Residents’ Association on our behalf in a secure account and proper records maintained. Any that is unused, or, indeed, any costs that may be awarded to us should we win, will be returned on a pro-rata basis. However, please only give what you can afford to lose as there are no guarantees. All contributions will be kept confidential and insurances will be secured that will limit an individual’s liability to that contribution.
A Residents Meeting has been called for Sunday, October 4th 2009 at 10:30am at Harborne Junior School to place these proposals before the residents of the estate and those bordering it that may be affected by these housing developments. By then we will have received barrister's opinion on the strength of our case. A Moorpool Duck will be on your doorstep shortly.
I very much hope that the residents who enjoy this unique garden suburb will join us in the battle to retain its character.
August 8th 2009
And without wishing to appear to be harping on about Mike Whitby, there may be those that think he adopts a general 'hands-off' policy to local planning issues due to his high and exalted position in the Council. Not so, it would seem, from recent press coverage. And it seems I'm not the only one to notice this judging from the letters page.
July 9th 2009
July 3rd 2009
The plans are definitely before the planning committee on July 9th. It's an agenda item and residents on the council mailing list have received letters. Clearly the larger the turnout by residents, the more we will demonstrate to the committee the level of local concern. And even more press coverage.
July 1st 2009
I'm not quite sure what is happening here. Although John Culligan was supposed to be reviewing and reporting to the planning committee, and taking objections to July 9th, the reports have already been released and authored by Simon Turner. They make depressing reading. On a slighlty more upbeat note, we are getting some good press coverage. Let's hope the planning committee read the papers.
June 21st 2009
The Council's report on their site visit, together with various addenda, is now available here (5mb).
June 4th 2009
The site visit was reported back to the planning committee and the decision on all three proposed sites has been deferred until July 9th for further information, mainly on the legal points raised by Emma on May 22nd. And on numerous occasions prior to that I may add.
This review will be carried out by John Culligan, Assistant Director of Planning Management, who has promised to review all evidence submitted and also any new objections that may be lodged before July 9th. He will, presumably, have access to the original letters and documents submitted by the MRG, MRA and MAA as well as individual letters, but if anyone has additional points they wish to be taken into account, or reinforce points they feel have been hitherto overlooked (quite a list in my opinion), the invitation is there.
June 3rd 2009
Rob and Barbara starred in Midlands Today. For those that missed it, you can catch up, as they keep telling us, on iPlayer, or watch the clip here. (It's about 15mb so may take a few moments to buffer, depending on your connection speed)
May 22nd 2009
The site visit took place on the 21st, with a good turn out by the committee who arrived in a mini-bus and first visited site Ei, followed by site C and, finally, site A. There were about twenty residents who turned out on site and it was obvious that the committee did not welcome their presence, clearly a new twist on the concept of democracy, but the chairman laid down the rules saying that we would have our say at the meeting later.
And boy, did we do that!
About a hundred people filled the lower hall, and only a dozen chairs were laid out. Volunteers had to hurriedly strip the upper hall of seating and there was still standing room only at the back. Among those present were our local councillors (with the notable exception of Mike Whitby, needless to say) our MP, and representatives from the Victorian Society and National Allotments Association, all of whom spoke.
Rob led off for the residents and everyone who spoke presented different and excellent evidence to the committee. The jewel in the crown, however, was Emma who, despite suffering from a cold, presented a case worthy of Rumpole. Even the chairman of the planning committee acknowledged this with, if I recall correctly, the words that 'he had never received such a knowledgeable and erudite presentation'.
Many thanks indeed to everyone who was able to attend at such an awkward time of the day. I am certain the very number of concerned residents must also have had an impact on the committee, who are now going to report their decision at the June 4th planning committee. This will be at 11am in committee rooms 3 and 4 for those able to attend.
While it is hoped that the applications are rejected, everyone’s efforts on the day should, at the very least, cause the committee to question the basis of the advice they have had from the planning department and ensure that any judgement they make is on a sound legal footing.
May 15th 2009
The site visit will be on the afternoon of May 21st, starting at about 2pm. After the site visit the Planning Committee will convene in the Lower Hall at approx. 3pm for a public meeting to hear comments from the public. They will then report back to the full planning committee before reaching a decision on June 4th. Anyone who is available on the 21st is urged to attend and voice their views.
And, meanwhile, poor old Grainger have reported their first half-year loss (£143million) and deferred any dividends.
April 23rd 2009
The Planning Committee today heard Grainger's applications. Rob and Emma did a magnificent job speaking on behalf of the residents, particularly considering the 3 minute time constraint, and all three applications have been deferred pending a site visit.
The tentative date for this is May 21st, but the exact date will not be confirmed until the week before. After the site visit the Planning Committee will convene to a local venue, hopefully the Moorpool Hall, to hear comments from the public before reaching a decision.
New homes plan stalled by residents and more
Evening Mail, April 27th, 2009
April 15th 2009
An e-mail has been received today from the Planning Department advising us that they will be recommending approval of all Grainger's applications. Their reports are available here.
These recommendations will be submitted to the Planning Committee at their next sitting, which is on Thursday, April 23rd at 11am in Committee Rooms 3 and 4, Council House, Birmingham, This is a public meeting and all residents and other interested parties are urged to attend. The agenda is available here.
Meanwhile, young Tim Nicholson has been hitting the headlines here and here and here as a 'green' martyr by taking Grainger to court for unfair dismissal. And winning. While applauding this action in many respects, I can’t help wondering how his conscience sits as an environmental campaigner who also headed Grainger’s proposals to destroy allotments and wildlife habitats.
Seems this may be March now. In the meantime, see the Allotment Association's counter proposal..
It now seems that the planning department have all they need to make their report which is likely to be presented to the Planning Committee late February. This will be a public meeting and, when known, the date will be communicated to all residents through this site and the Duck.
Meanwhile, if you want to see how Grainger are faring in the current economic climate, their annual report is available here.
Grainger have now submitted their Flood Risk Assessment for the Valley Site, and this is now available as a two-part page turner from the planning dept web site. Essentially, they say that a flood is a one in a lifetime likelihood, but, just in case, they suggest raising the proposed housing by 8" and destroying what may remain of the allotments with a soakaway to protect against the non-existent flooding risk. They also admit a possibility of sewage leak. And Grainger commissioned this report. A decision is now unlikely before Christmas. Any further developments (pun unintended) will be posted here and/or through the Duck.
And, of course, it would be unfair to not mention how Grainger are faring. Well, not so good it appears, with share slumps and cut-backs. One quote in particular, by Robin Broadhurst, Chairman of Grainger, caught the eye.
"In response to these market conditions, we are putting increased emphasis on cash generation -- by driving through a significant programme of asset sales, by reducing acquisitions and spend on development projects and by cutting overhead costs."
Well, July has arrived with no significant progress. The planning department are waiting for additional information from Grainger and, with the holiday weeks fast approaching, it's likely to be September before any decision is made. Of course, with the credit crunch, falling house prices and a generally depressed property market, it may well suit Grainger for the application to sit in an in-tray until the situation improves. This is, of course, identical to the strategy adopted by the the Magratheans who went into hibernation to await recovery of the galactic stock market.
And, speaking of Grainger, what have those little tinkers been up to - or rather down to if their share prices are anything to go by - standing at about a third of their value last year. Rumours of their take-over by Regis also seem to be blowing hot and cold. They have applied to the Takeover Panel for a deadline of August 19th for Regis to clarify their intentions. Know how they feel! Now, if anyone has a spare £700m hanging around......
Grainger lodged their planning applications in February for 16 houses over three sites, involving the demolition of over 130 garages, the loss of over half of the allotments on the Valley Site, and the destruction of innumerable mature trees and hedgerows.
In addition to a substantive objection by the MRG, the Residents’ Association and the Allotment Association have also lodged significant objections (available here) , and the planning department has received ‘hundreds’ of letters of objection from both individuals and organisations.
So what happens now?
The planning department have the unenviable task of sifting through all the documents submitted to arrive at a recommendation for the Planning Committee. This is likely to be a lengthy process and they will also, no doubt, be seeking clarification on many points in respect of allotments, ecology, parking and flooding risks in particular. It may well be May or June before this process is finalised and the proposals, together with the planning department’s recommendations, will be presented to the Planning Committee. This is likely to be a public meeting where Grainger and the residents will have the opportunity to speak. The date of this meeting may only be known a week or so in advance and will be published on this site as soon as it is known.
The Planning Applications
Grainger lodged planning applications on February 14th which are now available on the planning department web site. Formal notices notices have also been delivered.
The planning reference numbers are:
The initial difficulty of document size has now been resolved and I would like to thank Richard Melia at the Council for his prompt intervention to make this happen.
The closing date for lodging objections is March 19th. A letter from the MRG and MRA has been circulated to all residents. Thanks to all who have copied their objections to me and keep them coming.
Grainger displayed the latest incarnation of the proposals at the Moorpool Hall on January 26th and it is these that have been submitted for planning permission.
For those that were unable to attend, or wish to be reminded, these plans are:
While the current proposals are comparatively reduced in scope and distribution, there are still many points of serious concern:
Who Are the MRG?
The Moorpool Regeneration Group (MRG) was formed at a Special General Meeting of the Moorpool Residents' Assocation on June 14th 2007, and ratified at a subseqent meeting on July 19th when a written constitution was adopted and group members formally elected.
The purpose of this web site is to:
The Moor Pool photographed by Martyn Hill in the 1970's
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