We really feel for the 60+ people who have lost their jobs today – if this affects you, we urge you to take a look at Citizens Advice bureau to find out your rights.
We are disgusted with the behaviour of the site landlord and supermarket bully Lidl UK.
No matter what you think about the state of the building (which couldn’t be renovated because of this Lidl threat) or the need for an affordable supermarket in Stirchley, it is awful to lose two businesses of this kind. There were plenty of other sites in Stirchley that Lidl could have bought up… the newly available Tesco site namely.
We continue to oppose this decision and we want to show support for fitness/leisure facilities in Stirchley. Even if Fitness First won’t relocate to another building here, another gym might take up in the area knowing there is a gap in the market. It is going to be harder to relocate the bowling alley but we can continue to hope.
The community fought really hard to save the site and should be proud of itself.
- Write letters of complaint. Adapt and send these letter templates to Lidl, Fitness First and Birmingham City Council. We urge you to write and express your opinions.
- Lidl CEO: Christian Härtnagel firstname.lastname@example.org
- Lidl Customer Services: email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org Lidl UK GmbH, 19 Worple Road Wimbledon, London, SW19 4JS
- Birmingham City Council Leader (interim): Stella Manzie, email@example.com Birmingham City Council, Council House, Victoria Square, Birmingham, B1 1BB
- You can sign and share the petition: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/stop-lidl-replacing-fitness-first-in-stirchley
- You can voice your disgust at the closure on social media.
And why not……
- Tell PSL Bowling that you want to help / support them in finding a new home in Stirchley
- Ask the local management team/staff at Fitness First Stirchley if they’d open an independent gym up in Stirchley……. there’s the gap in the market for it.
Please see below for letters we have sent which we urge you to adapt and personalise.
The more letters, the greater the impact.
DON’T fall into the trap that someone else has done it, we are the affected users and we should not let others dictate to our detriment, so send them your thoughts as soon as you can to support those who have been active for our cause.
The bullet points link to actual letters that we have sent out.
We have copied and pasted the info below and edited from the originals, as they were personal from our campaigners. We urge you to add your own reasons / delete as appropriate. Please ensure your letter is personal to you and shares your own opinions and story.
Ian’s letters (please read, rewrite and adapt)
Points you could include in your own letters:
- There will be the displacement of 3500+ gym members
- A loss of 60+ staff jobs across both sites
- Loss of facilities for several local schools, university societies, community groups/charities who use the bowling alley such as: Hall Green Secondary School, Hall Green Primary, Fox Hollies School (special school & college), Uffculme (special school), Cotteridge Primary, Stirchley School, Selly Park Girls Tech College, St Dunstans, Raddlebarn School, Kings Heath Boys, St. Paul’s Girls School, University of Birmingham / University societies.
- The loss of fitness facilities make it more difficult for many to be motivated in maintaining their health
- The site has had leisure facilities on it for decades. It has formed a valued part of community life in South Birmingham.
- The site has been used for leisure purposes since it was built in 1931. http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/9312
- The loss of the facilities will be of detrimental impact to our health services
- The decision to approve Lidl in favour of a gym/bowls is a contradiction on government efforts to promote healthy and active lifestyles
- A huge community has developed over 15 years at Fitness First #StirchleyStrong. The venue promotes wellbeing and health, and acts as a meeting place
- The asset furthers the social wellbeing and social interests of the local community
- Planners ignored the use of the facilities by disabled users who will not have the support elsewhere
- There are classes at Fitness First which are open to non-members, giving an affordable opportunity for exercise groups in Stirchley
- There are countless nutritionists, physiotherapists, personal trainers and coaches who rely on Fitness First for their business
- There is little else in the area for fitness and recreation facilities
- These opportunities for health and fitness are much-needed in Stirchley and without Fitness First / this site, Stirchley has a gaping hole for access to fitness and exercise 7 days a week.
- and many other reasons…
Birmingham City Council, Chief Executive’s Office, Birmingham City Council, Council House, Victoria Square, Birmingham, B1 1BB
Regarding planning decision 2016/00664/PA
Dear Stella Manzie, interim leader of BCC,I’m a resident who has signed SuperStirchley’s petition: https://tinyurl.com/stirchleyI’m a Fitness First member / PSL Bowling user and I have been for X years X months.I am devastated by the loss of the both facilities Fitness First and PSL Bowling in Stirchley. For me personally…..<insert statement about what the facilities mean to you / have enabled you to do – such as rehabilitation from operation, encourage you to be more social, aid weight-loss, meet new friends, increase your confidence / other relevant info.><insert points which resonate with you from list above>I request that you begin an inquiry into the planning decision granted on 22nd December (reference above). I would also suggest an investigation into the ineffective planning system which has enabled Lidl to buy this land regardless of having planning permission or not.I think it is important to invoke the disciplinary process for those committee members who agreed the planning decision without doing their due diligence.Stirchley needs your support. We need to rehome or replace the amenities we are losing – PSL Bowling and Fitness First Gym.Furthermore, I would like assurances that you will listen to residents objections in the future, and protect any facilities of community importance.Regards,ResidentResident address (important)
Letter to Fitness First Managing Director. Martin.Seibold@fitnessfirst.com
Fitness First Clubs Ltd, 58 Fleets Lane, Poole, Dorset, BH15 3BT
Fitness First – Stirchley, Birmingham, B30 2YB
I understand that the gym is to close end May 2017 with the loss of jobs and an active and thriving gym membership who have built up a community over the last 17 years or so.
Several rumours exist as to your handling of Lidl’s takeover, land owners selling the land and your genuine intentions during this process.
It would assist our community if you could provide some honest and straightforward answers to the following:
- When did you know about the land being sold?
- You have failed to offer any help or support in keeping the gym open – why not?
- Were you given compensation for leaving the site?
- Why have you not liaised with PSL Bowling, or taken into consideration the impact on their business too?
- Will you consider relocation elsewhere in Stirchley?
- If you are not retaining the gym in Stirchley would you donate all the equipment (not on loan/hire) and any useful fixtures/fittings that would allow us the opportunity of setting up our community facility?
Many of us feel your treatment and lack of respect for the thousands of loyal members has been disappointing.
Letter to Lidl –
Lidl CEO: Christian Härtnagel firstname.lastname@example.org
Lidl Customer Services: email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org
CEO Christian Härtnagel, Lidl UK GmbH, 19 Worple Road, Wimbledon, London, SW19 4JS
Fitness First/Bowling Alley, Stirchley, Birmingham, B30 2YB
Dear Christian Härtnagel
I am a local Stirchley resident and Fitness First member / PSL Bowling user.Because of your company’s actions buying up land to demolish two of our facilities, 3500+ gym members and 60+ members of staff are going to be displaced.
Both facilities above are well-used and much-loved, and as such, it is not the case where you have bought land with assets which have been hardly used, in decline or derelict. You appear to have shown no regard or appreciation to the community in which you hope to be selling to in the future.
The loss of these facilities has outraged many in the community as you should be fully aware of by the protests, objections and recent planning application being quashed due to the community’s perseverance. Please see petition with 2500 signatures of which I am one of the signatories: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/stop-lidl-replacing-fitness-first-in-stirchley
These facilities are important to so many and as such you should be able to understand the community unrest, frustration and anger.I am not aware of any community consultation having been considered before you undertook your actions.
We as a community would have been, and still would be, supportive of your aims if you could consider the Tesco’s site or even other ones nearby which we understand are still available. Such an action and consideration for us as a community would be welcomed. The cost to you is likely to be insignificant compared to the damage caused to both parties.
Furthermore, we understand you have negotiated a deal with Fitness First and would appreciate you informing us of those negotiations. We want to know why you have ignored PSL Bowling in these negotiations?
I can only hope that you may not have been fully aware of the strength of feeling towards our current facilities and that you work with us to replace them.
Fitness First Stirchley has confirmed that its head office has given them 45 days’ notice of closure (to 31 May 2017) and SuperStirchley understands this is because Lidl is in the process of buying the site – despite community objections and Tesco pulling out of an alternative empty site nearby. PSL Bowling has confirmed that it has not yet been given notice by the landlord.
If you object to Lidl’s latest move, please scroll down to see what actions you can now take.
The German supermarket chain is allegedly pushing ahead with the land purchase despite Birmingham City Council quashing the planning consent last month after a legal appeal by a SuperStirchley supporter successfully challenged the decision over the loss of popular local sports and leisure facilities. In a letter to one of our members on 7 April, Lidl confirmed that it was “committed to purchasing the site” and that “Fitness First will be in touch with you at the appropriate time to inform you of what is happening”.
In the same letter, Lidl refused to make further comment but we suspect that it is planning to demolish both the gym and bowling alley so that it can then re-apply for planning consent without the loss of local sports/leisure facilities being a consideration for Birmingham City Council planners.
SuperStirchley finds this action despicable and disgusting. It is an insult to the community that it wants to become future customers and it makes a mockery of having planning committees.
We cannot allow this to happen.
Demolishing Stirchley’s only fitness gym and bowling alley – which is due to celebrate its 50th anniversary on site next year – when there is an empty site just 100m further up Pershore Road is clearly the wrong decision, and has already led to several protests. There are already several supermarkets in close proximity and traffic congestion will only get worse with supermarket deliveries and high volume of customers. Not to mention that the job losses caused are greater than those created.
We have heard unconfirmed rumours that another gym chain has expressed interest in the site so it really is worth opposing this site being turned into yet another supermarket. We support new gyms in the area, as there is a readymade client base. The bowling alley also has local school, charity and community groups links and would be a great loss to south Birmingham. It is also a small family business that will be devastated by this expansion by Lidl.
SuperStirchley remains opposed to Lidl building on this particular site and we will do all we can to save our few remaining sports and leisure facilities.
What can we do now?
Please join our fight to stop – you can do this in several ways:
- Stay in the loop – get campaign updates and news of protests by signing up to our campaign email list here.
- Sign the petition if you haven’t already (2,300 signatures so far) – here’s the link
- Share the petition on Facebook, Twitter, etc – copy and paste our sample Tweets:
Disgusted by @LidlUK behaviour in #Stirchley –I am petitioning to save @FFStirchley & @PSLBowling: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/stop-lidl-replacing-fitness-first-in-stirchley @BhamCityCouncil
4. Write to Lidl /Tesco to encourage Lidl to build on the alternative site – here’s a template letter you can adapt.
5. Write to Birmingham City Council, Lidl and Tesco. The more individual letters and emails we can send, the bigger the impact. Here are the addresses to write to:
Christian Härtnagel, CEO
Lidl UK GmbH
19 Worple Road
Matt Davies, CEO
Welwyn Garden City
Stella Menzies, Interim Chief Executive
Birmingham City Council
Chief Executive’s Office
Birmingham City Council
Most of these actions takes just a few minutes to carry out so please do what you can to Stand Up For Stirchley.
You may have read the news on Twitter already but, for those of you who haven’t, here is an update on Birmingham City Council’s planning decision to approve demolition of Fitness First/PSL Bowling in favour of a Lidl supermarket on the site.
Thanks to ongoing free legal support from the Environmental Law Foundation (ELF), a national UK charity that helps people use the law to protect and improve their local environment and quality of life, we have some good news to report.
With ELF’s tremendous help in checking over the planning case, and a Stirchley resident and SuperStirchley supporter willing to be named as the person challenging the public body, we sent a Pre-Action Letter for Judicial Review to Birmingham City Council.
Last night (20 March) SuperStirchley attended a public meeting at Stirchley Community Church called by Cllr Rob Sealey on the topic of Tesco’s withdrawal from its planned Stirchley site. Simon Turner (Planning Officer responsible for city south planning applications) and Ian MacLeod (Assistant Director of Regeneration and Planning) were in attendance.
However, before the Tesco discussion began, Cllr Sealey made an announcement on the Lidl application.
Following a pre-action letter setting out grounds for a judicial review that was sent to the Council by ELF on behalf of local residents, BCC has accepted that the decision had been incorrectly decided. The council will therefore agree to quash the planning permission previously granted to Lidl. This will not prevent Lidl from making a further application but such an application will be treated as a new application.
Lidl could still submit another planning application – which would be their third – but it’s possible that would be more difficult to approve following this consent to judgment.
We don’t want to raise false hopes if there are implications yet to come out – we are merely stating what was said at the meeting by council officials.
We want to thank Environmental Law Foundation for their incredible help. Please consider becoming a member to support their work – without them we wouldn’t have been able to do this.
We hope this shows other locals that standing up for things that matter really can make a difference. And as we have always maintained: we are not against Lidl, we were opposing the loss of our facilities.
Sent: 08 March 2017 08:45
Cc: Walker, Jessica
Subject: FW: Tesco, Stirchley, Birmingham
Many thanks for your email to Matt Davies and Dave Lewis. Matt and Dave has asked me to reply. I would like to start by saying thatI know this news will be a disappointment to many people in the community and I would like to assure you that it is not a decision we have taken lightly.
We are very aware of the importance of the site to the local community and we want to work hard to find the right solution for your community. Most importantly we are keen to see that the site is brought into effective use to serve residents and the community.
To that end we have already started to market the site and will consider all the options put to us. As part of this marketing we have instructed our agents to contact Lidl but as I am sure you can appreciate it would be up to them if they want to pursue any discussions with us. The marketing is at an early stage but we are keen to make progress and we will continue to engage with relevant stakeholders locally, including Birmingham City Council.
Many thanks again for taking the time to write.
Head of UK Stakeholder Communications
Cirrus B, Shire Park, Kestrel Way, Welwyn Garden City AL7 1GA
We’ve also written to Christian Härtnagel, CEO of Lidl UK GmbH, and are currently waiting for a response. We’d encourage you to do so, too, if you would like to.
In light of the recent news, we wanted to write to Tesco and Lidl.
We aren’t against Lidl. We want to keep our gym and bowling alley.
We want Tesco to consider selling a portion of their huge expanse of land in Stirchley to Lidl (and the rest for community ownership/housing/row of independent shops/extension to Hazelwell park/giant lido/theme park/ you name it…)
In all seriousness, it takes about a couple of minutes, possibly won’t make a difference, but definitely worth a try!
We have ready made templates here which you can edit as you see fit, feel free to copy us in email@example.com :-
Matt Davies, Managing Director, Tesco Plc Matt.Davies@uk.tesco.com
Dave Lewis, CEO, Tesco Plc Dave.Lewis@uk.tesco.com
Tesco House, Shire Park
Kestrel Way, Welwyn Garden City
RE:Tesco, Stirchley, Birmingham
I understand that your company has confirmed it will no longer be building a store at the above location.
I am sure you understand the disappointment this decision will have been to many residents in that and the surrounding area not to have a better quality supermarket in their vicinity. Obviously, this must be a disappointing business decision for you after many years in the planning.
You may be aware that Lidl intend to build on a nearby site which will completely eradicate one of Birmingham’s most popular gyms and a family bowling alley and the other entertainment that provides. They are currently a huge service to the community well above the intentions of Lidl’s.
Many residents and users are seeking direct and indirect actions to vent their anger and voice at our council’s planning decision. Whilst we continue to challenge BCC and Lidl a number of residents were wondering what Tesco could do to help our community with regards to saving those facilities especially in light of your company being a well-respected business in the market and the disappointment of you not continuing with your building of the store.
I am sure your own team would be able to suggest some practical ideas and suggestions but consideration could be to sell the land to the community, to Lidl or other proposals. This would clearly be a positive and supported accolade to you and Tesco’s.
I and/or several active residents would be only to pleased to meet with your representatives should you feel it helpful to all concerned. I can be contacted on the details provided.
Christian Härtnagel Chief Executive firstname.lastname@example.org
Lidl UK GmbH, 19 Worple Road
Wimbledon, London, SW19 4JS
RE:Lidl, Stirchley, Birmingham
As you will be aware Lidl are proposing to build a store on the site of Fitness First and PSL Bowling leisure centre in Stirchley, Birmingham. If this proposal goes ahead it will result in the loss of both Fitness First and PSL Bowling, both who provide a huge service to the community.
It has recently been announced that Tesco have decided to pull out of their planned development in Stirchley and are now in the process of looking to sell. The Tesco land in question has a larger footprint than your planned development on the Fitness First site and it is for this reason that the local community ask you to consider this, or a portion of this, as an alternative site for your new store, rather than demolishing a well used gym and leisure centre.
I and/or several active residents would be only to pleased to meet with your representatives should you feel it helpful to all concerned. I can be contacted on the details provided.
Behind the scenes we have been very busy. We are currently receiving ongoing support from the Environmental Law Foundation with free legal advice on whether it is worth proceeding with a Judicial Review (JR). We know that the JR route is expensive and there are very few judgments overturned… but we think we have a good case on several fronts. What a JR, or the threat of one, can do is give the council a chance to reconsider its decision. “This may mean that the public body will be able to make the same decision again, so long as it does so in a lawful way.” – Judiaciary.gov.uk
Time is short on the JR process. We have to serve a Letter of Intent on the council informing them that we’re requesting a Judicial Review within six weeks of the final decision (9 February) and allow them 2 weeks to respond. This gets the wheels in motion.
If we do proceed to the full JR, we need to fundraise for this, which is a lot to ask the local community, we know. If you would be willing to back this campaign financially – whether that’s £1 or a considerable amount more – then please stay in touch with us either on this blog, via email email@example.com on our Facebook or Twitter. If you have any ideas for fundraising, or would be able to help with a Kickstarter (or equivalent crowd funding) if it comes to it, please do say. We’re looking at a maximum of £50k in legal fees for the JR process if it comes to it… that’s £22 per signature on the 38degrees petition and less than a month’s membership at Fitness First.
The petition has reached 2,300 signatures and is growing. PLEASE SIGN AND SHARE.
We’re discussing a second protest, on a weeknight this time. We have a date pencilled in but we need to discuss with Fitness First and PSL Bowling first… placards at the ready!
Tesco has backed out of its plans to build in Stirchley, 17 years after its first commitment to build. At this stage, we don’t know how this is going to affect the SuperStirchley campaign against Birmingham City Council’s U-turn on the Lidl decision but we are eager to see the council working with locals and the site owner Tesco to have a say in what plans we’d like to see.
Tesco has said it is willing to sell the land to other supermarkets – could Lidl be swayed to move on to some of the land Tesco owns instead of demolishing local leisure and fitness facilities? We can understand the disappointment felt by residents after a long wait but we see this as a huge opportunity for Stirchley to have some real infrastructure plans put into place which don’t include being dictated by a supermarket’s huge blueprints.
Dates for your diary:
Monday 13 March – Stirchley Neighbourhood Forum meeting, 7.30pm, Stirchley Community Church
Wednesday 15 March – Stirchley the Way Forward meeting, 7.30pm, Stirchley Baths