Planning History

Since purchasing the Battery Site Sainbury's and their partners have proposed a number of schemes for the site. We describe the principal and relevant plans below.

After consulting on a range of schemes, all with a restored Lapal Canal, Sainsbury's obtained outline planning permission for a mixed use site including restoration of the Lapal Canal in 2000. 

In 2007 Sainbury's obtained further planning permission for a mixed use development featuring a new marina and canal running approximately on the route of the Lapal canal linking the Worcester and Birmingham (W&B) canal to Selly Oak Park. This development included a Sainsbury's store, a small amount of additional retail, two significant office buildings, a leisure facility, a significant amount of housing and a small plot reserved for community use. Within this plan there was an allowance for a road link between Battery Retail Park and the new development. The Sainbury's store was oriented east-west alongside the marina, facing the Bristol Rd and with good pedestrian links to it. It also featured a walkway along the canal and bridges to link Selly Oak Park / Gibbins Rd to Bournbrook. The development was bounded to the west and north by the (then proposed) Selly Oak New Road. The approved plans also covered the Selly Oak Triangle Site where the current Sainbury's store stands. This area was to have included a hotel.

After granting planning permission for this development Birmingham City Council built the first phases of Selly Oak New Road including a viaduct and aqueduct for the main railway line and W&B canal respectively. This road is routed as described in the approved plans. The new road bridges the route of the Lapal canal near its junction with Gibbins Rd. Clearly the council had in mind the pending implementation of the 2007 plan when this road was built.

Late in 2011 the Harvest Partnership (a joint venture between Sainbury's and Land Securities) presented new plans for a retail led development. Early versions of the plan had no canal but did make provision for a future navigable route roughly along the line of the Lapal Canal although it is doubtful that retailers would ever have allowed its construction. Following consultation, detailed plans were submitted in Feb 2012, these plans did include a watered canal but for much of its length the canal was very narrow and bridged at ground level. These features and opening restrictions would have made navigating the canal unattractive. The plan included a large Sainsbury's store and a very large area of retail space. In effect this development aimed to create a new town centre for Selly Oak. It would have mostly faced away from the Bristol Rd although some of the shops could have faced the W&B canal. A small office block, a hotel and student residences also featured. There would have been little possibility of linking to Battery Retail Park in this plan. No plans were submitted in respect of the Selly Oak Triangle. In December 2012 Harvest presented a revised plan with slightly less retail to Council but the plan has yet to receive consent. Formal consultation on the revised plan closed on the 26th Dec 2012.

Also in Dec 2012 Harvest began a new public consultation for the site, this time with a large area to the north of the site dedicated to a Life Science Park. The remainder of the site was divided between a small retail park and a large Sainbury's store plus parking. A hall of residence is shown between the Sainsbury's store and the W&B canal. The consultation document has no canal but provides a route for one to the north of the site, not very close to the original line of the canal. Crucially any canal and walkway would have to pass under Sainsbury's and its service yard and while provision for this is made in the plan it does not in our view constitute a viable walking route from Selly Oak Park / Gibbins Rd to Bournbrook. It is by no means certain that the connection with the W&B canal outlined would be navigable. The plan shows no direct pedestrian access from the Bristol Rd (only via a bridge over the W&B canal) and in general the development appears to turn its back on the Bristol Rd. As a positive it does leave open the possibility of links to Battery Retail Park.

The Dec 2012 plan now has outline planing permission with the usage and access points confirmed and all other matters reserved. The developers have promised additional money towards the reinstatement of the Lapal Canal across the site and have agrees to consult in detail with local residents, via a reference group, before proceeding with a final design.