Sainsbury's accused of 'swindle' in Selly Oak - Birmingham Post

1 Jul 2013

Birmingham Councillors have accused Sainsbury’s of  ‘a swindle’ after Selly Oak regeneration plan was scrapped. The Councillors hit out at supermarket chain over new plans for former Battery Park site.

The Councillors claim that Supermarket giant Sainsbury’s has reneged on plans to restore an historic stretch of Birmingham canal.  The store chain had previously pledged to improve the Lapal Canal link as part of its proposed regeneration of land in Selly Oak. But city councillors were enraged to discover no sign of that commitment – or Sainsbury’s 2007 agreement to pay £6 million towards the construction of Selly Oak New Road – in a new planning application.

Coun Peter Douglas-Osborn (Con, Weoley) told a planning committee meeting: “We made these agreements five years ago and now they are saying no to the canal and no to the repayment of capital costs for phase one of the Selly Oak New Road. “It is not the council’s fault they paid too much for this site, that two years after there was a failure of the financial system – and I don’t think Sainsbury’s profits have been significantly affected.

“It is because of this I cannot discuss this plan with any enthusiasm.”

The latest plans for the old Battery Park site included the new superstore, smaller shops, offices, student accommodation and a major life sciences park designed for medical research companies.

The Selly Oak New Road was planned to ease the pressure on the A38 through the area. The second phase of the development, which cost £62 million, was finished in 2011.

The Lapal Canal is the eastern half of the Dudley No.2 Canal, which was opened in 1798 and was built to join the Dudley Canal with the Worcester and Birmingham Canal.

The main line was nearly 11 miles long but it proved expensive to maintain and the Lapal Tunnel, Britain’s fourth-longest canal tunnel, was dogged by a series of roof collapses, the last of which happened in 1917.

The Lapal Canal Trust is working towards the restoration of the decommissioned half of the canal.

Another planning committee member, Coun Barry Henley (Lab, Brandwood), said: “The local community did a lot of work on this and raised the swindle over the legal agreement and the swindle over the money for the relief road.

“They raised lots of issues, such as about how the canal could be reinstated, and these have not even been acknowledged.”

Sainsbury’s architects explained that the scheme allowed for the canal to be reinstated at a future date.

The Mail asked the company for a full comment but none was immediately available.

via Sainsbury’s accused of ‘swindle’ in Selly Oak – Birmingham Post.

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