Do Sainsbury’s Selly Oak Plans Ignore National and Local Guidelines?

Sainsbury’s Plans for Selly Oak, Birmingham, don’t now include the Dudley No2 (alias Lapal) Canal.

The long established champion of canal preservation and restoration, the IWA,  has launched a national campaign to object to the latest outline planning permission submitted by Sainsbury’s for the redevelopment of Selly Oak!

Such action indicates the seriousness of the matter!

Is this a consequence  of our monetary based regime where, in the final analysis (if not at the outset), profit motivation overrides environmental and community considerations and preferences?

The site for the development is situated at the former Selly Oak canal Junction.

Well, the previous outline planning application 2012/01565/PA was made on 7 March 2012. This included the restoration of a junction of the Worcester and Birmingham canal with the disused Dudley No2 (or Lapal) canal including a link into Selly Park.

Sainsbury's Lapal Link Screenshot via Snipping tool from publicly visible illustration on

Sainsbury’s Lapal Link Screenshot via Windows Snipping tool from publicly visible illustration on freely visible to the public via the Internet in April 2012

Part of the previous plans for the development can be seen left.  This link provided a splendid communal relaxation area alongside the link and a good start for the greater canal restoration – something really good for the local community and visiting boaters from far and wide.

But now It would appear, to some, that Sainsbury’s’ plans are primarily to create a supermarket and a Life Sciences Park plus financially lucrative student accommodation.

The new proposals don’t include the canal link, nor does adequate space appear to have been left for it. It appears that this will permanently block the route of the former canal that Lapal Canal Trust intends to restore. Also, the proposals only enhance a short section of the present unattractive and run-down waterway corridor through Selly Oak.

This section is part of the much-used-by-visitors Worcester & Birmingham Canal which otherwise is regarded as perhaps the most attractive canal leading into Birmingham and sets the scene for an attractive stay by boaters in Birmingham centre.

The first screenshot below was taken in March 2012 from the New Generation Plans for Selly Oak website published by Sainsbury’s and their partners Land Securities. It shows the proposed  canal junction and link to Selly Park with its wonderful sequence of 5 footbridges along which were to be seats for the community to relax and enjoy the view – waterways always induce this empathy.
Sainsburys Siteplan Second Planning Application The current screenshot of plans show that all that has changed. Only a narrow green walkway to the south (on the right) of the superstore and car park is provided. Sainsburys siteplan third planiing application

To register a comment on the application, Click here.

To register a critical comment or objection now to this application, Click here, or read on.


My Personal Opinions on the current application:

    1. This appears to be against the wishes of two important local organisations – the
      Community Partnership for Selly Oak and
      The Lapal Canal Trust.
    2. Whilst canal trusts up and down the country are working hard with volunteers to preserve our canal heritage, Sainsbury’s does not seem to wholly share this charitable approach to enhance the lives of the community and preserve our heritage for our children.
    3. The proposed 16 storey student accommodation building could dominate the remaining community area – the canalside square across the canal; this will cast a shadow over the square and canal for half of the day. It is also seems incongruous being 35 metres higher than the tallest of the other buildings in the development.
    4. Whilst the new life sciences research centre is welcome, the student accommodation building should create much profit as elsewhere in the city and this seems a possible reason for its inclusion in the revised application.
    5. The original plans were welcomed by the local communities as converting a derelict site to provide a commercial and community centre so badly needed and thus enhance the quality of life.
    6. The BCC were also enthusiastic about the original plans, no doubt because they solved an environmental problem of a disused factory site but also because this was combined with an enhanced social environment. As so often happens, following acceptance of an outline plan, large development companies dilute the proposals in the hope that the Planning Committees will pass these as they still solve an environmental problem. During the preparation of these diluted plans, other developers are prevented from also submitting development plans.

The IWA has identified the following points:

(hover over Compliant to find the answer)

The City planning policy in the Selly Oak Local Action Plan (LAP) adopted in July 2001 states:

“Any new development in this area should also assist with the future reinstatement of the former Dudley No 2 (Lapal) Canal.  New development should also be designed so that it is well related to the existing Worcester & Birmingham Canal and the reinstated Dudley No 2 Canal” 

The proposal clearly does not meet that since the ‘protected line’ of the Lapal Canal is proposed to be a green walkway.

“British Waterways and the City Council are now committed to working together to ensure the continued renaissance of the canal network as an integral part of the City’s economic, social and environmental well-being.”  The LAP also states that Selly Oak is noted to be a stage 1 priority area for this

The proposal clearly goes against that commitment since the un-restored Lapal Canal is not planned to be an integral part the ‘canal network’ and the canal side proposals for the Worcester Birmingham Canal corridor include a linear high rise student apartment block that blocks out much light will make the area unwelcoming.

Referring to the former PPG (Planning Policy Guidance)13 it includes the statement: “that development proposals should not adversely affect inland waterways”

Clearly, the submitted proposal does adversely affect inland waterways since it does not allow for an inland waterway to be restored and adversely affect the setting of the Worcester and Birmingham Canal

With reference to the Lapal Canal it states that;  “Meanwhile, development should restore the section between the Worcester and Birmingham Canal and Selly Oak Park, and the option of restoring the remainder of the canal kept open and Birmingham Canal and Selly Oak Park, and the option of restoring the remainder of the canal kept open”

No. Clearly the proposal does not allow for the restoration of the Lapal Canal

To register a critical comment or objection now to this application,
Click hereor read on.

Additional Points:

The former PPG13 (now absorbed into the National Planning Policy Framework) also states:“local authorities should identify, and where appropriate protect, disused waterways (by allocating land in development plans and ensuring sites and routes are not severed by new development or transport infrastructure), where there is a reasonable degree of certainty of a restoration project proceeding in whole or in part within the plan period.”

No. Clearly, the proposal does not protect the disused Lapal Canal

On Sainsbury’s website it states amongst its 5 values which “provide the framework for how we do business”:

“Making a positive difference to our community

For us, retailing is about more than quality products and great service. It’s also about supporting and helping the communities where we work, and being a good neighbour. We aim for our stores to be at the heart of the communities they serve.”

No. The omission of support for the canal restoration and hence its benefits to the local and wider community  appears to be at odds with this

The National Planning Policy Framework, issued in March 2012 includes the following statement under Core Planning Principles.

On page 5, one of the 12 principles is that planning should:
“conserve heritage assets in a manner appropriate to their significance, so that they can be enjoyed for their contribution to the quality of life of this and future generations”

No. The proposal does not conserve such an asset the restoration of which is supported by many people

To register a critical comment or objection to this application, Click here.