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Thursday February 27 2020

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In Full . . .

Meadows loses out in Green Belt vote

Posted on February 01 2015 at 11:38:24

As someone who works with around 20 volunteers committed to giving youth access to sport, I will be ensuring that Alvechurch Parish Council puts everything it has available behind the development of changing and toilet facilities on The Meadows.

By voting against the McCarthy & Stone proposal, they have missed a significant chance to benefit those in the community who want The Meadows to be more accessible and usable.

The Parish Council knows that without toilets, changing rooms, better access and parking, the restored football pitch will become a white elephant.

So by protecting a piece of “scrubland”, which they acknowledged could be removed from the Green Belt at the next review, the leverage for community benefit is lost for no substantive reasons.

Traffic, parking concerns, a building that’s unsympathetic to the feel of the village . . . all are being embellished while trying to find what to object to just because this scrubland happens to be deemed Green Belt. Meanwhile, the big picture has been lost.

The reality is that McCarthy & Stone were given “in principle” approval by the parish council in March 2014 when the parish council acknowledged that the investment by McCarthy & Stone would enable the cricket club to commit to the Alvechurch Sports Partnership’s desire to support Alvechurch Lions FC and look for more participation in activities beyond football and cricket.

So how can it be that now all of a sudden there is too much cricket club benefit and insufficient community benefit?

The Meadows currently has no facilities, other than a very good football pitch and a soon-to-be renovated play area, and is only accessible via Meadow Lane.

Alvechurch Lions FC (ALFC) and Alvechurch & Hopwood CC (A& HCC) work with more than 180 youths and the proposed re-development would have given an opportunity to grow this number, do more collaborative activities with The Lounge and mean some constructive use of the scrubland would mean The Meadows could be more than dog-walking parkland.

However, with a decision necessary, a number of councillors have focused upon policy to potentially kiss goodbye to the “gifts” to the community (from land not currently available to the community that McCarthy & Stone would pay for) of 15 car parking spaces in the centre of the village, another access route to The Meadows (other than Meadow Lane), a storage building on their land for equipment needed by sports users and for the maintenance of the facility, and a building that was being developed to encourage more community usage and offer sustainability to both A&HCC and ALFC.

The reality, should this application be declined, is that the vets will be sold separately and will be converted into flats, whereby cars will be using the same access point that the parish council deems an issue with the McCarthy & Stone proposal, which will continue to be an issue for any other development planned in the future.

The lack of parking in the centre of the village will remain an issue, as will parking for school drop-offs and pick-ups. The Meadows and its lack of facilities will remain a hot topic (because I will ensure it is) and the scrubland will continue to remain an eyesore.

I’m sure the 80 per cent of the 140-plus people attending the public consultation who were in favour of the development might be bemused.

I’ve just assumed that the parish council has plans to unveil for The Meadows, which surely they must given the intransigence shown towards this solution.

This still wouldn’t mean there’s a second access point to The Meadows and more parking, but I’m sure it will be a priority given that they know how important this to the future of the cricket club, Alvechurch Lions and the development of The Lounge.

Pete Gwilliam, Alvechurch


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