After receiving over 1430 objections across two planning applications and two online petitions, the councils planning committee has given Lidl the green light to demolish leisure facilities to build a new supermarket in Stirchley.
Despite rejecting the application to demolish the popular Fitness First gym and PSL bowling alley two weeks before, the city’s planning committee quickly made a u-turn and approved the application in fear that Lidl would launch costly legal action.
Commenting on the decision, local MP Steve McCabe told B14 News “I am very disappointed with the council decision to agree the application for a Lidl store at the Fitness First site, Pershore Road. There were good grounds for refusing this application because of the serious traffic implications. It also seems strange to replace a fitness centre with a supermarket while the council proclaims its concerns about obesity. I worry about the advice councillors receive.
“It seems that the Planning Committee serves no purpose other than to rubber stamp applications these days. It won’t refuse for fear of being challenged, it won’t enforce even when a breach is evident and it won’t act in circumstances where planning permission has been ignored.”
“My constituents feel it shows no concern for the needs of local residents. The only time I see any activity is when officers take disproportionate action against hapless individuals for the most minor of infringements. I don’t know whose interests Birmingham Planning purports to represent but it’s certainly not Birmingham residents.”
Local residents also hit out at the approval.
money obviously talks. Definitely a no. Disgusting u-turn
— James Lawrence (@JamesLozza) December 23, 2016
Totally agree, disappointed and annoyed in the way Stirchley is being treated.
Can nothing be done to stop this ridiculous decision made by over weight spineless councillors @FFStirchley
— Tony Wellings (@tonywellings555) December 24, 2016
Lidl bullied weak council into building store that residents don't want. Pathetic. 5 supermarkets but a crumbling high st# stirchley#lidl
— Deborah Mole (@DeborahMole1) December 23, 2016
62+ people are set to lose their jobs with 36 employed by or working from the Fitness First gym and 26 employed at PSL Bowling.
Yet the council still approved the demolition knowing Lidl has only committed to 20 full time staff which could be transferred from other stores.