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Lidl in Stirchley – “it’s far from over”

August 18, 2017
Lidl has this week been given permission to demolish the Fitness First and PSL Bowl building around the electricity substation on site. The German global discount supermarket chain continues to push on with its plans to build a supermarket that few in the community wanted on that site.
A report in the Birmingham Post says we should “expect Lidl to submit a new store plan during the autumn”.

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Next community action: Autumn 2017

Superstirchley encourages people to respond to the expected Lidl planning application when it goes in and to pressurise BCC planning and Lidl to account for the lost sports/leisure facilities – either by building them into their site (as other supermarkets have done) or through funding that may help the community in other pays.
We will post both here and on our Twitter/Facebook as soon as we receive news of the application, with details of where to respond.

At the recent planning committee, the Area Planning Officer said that it “remains to be seen” whether there will be a future store, and mentioned a local resident’s objections around:

  • traffic concerns and congestion at junctions nearby
  • noise for residents living nearby
  • is there suitable parking
  • do we need another large store
  • and the loss of the Fitness First gym facility

Cllr Gareth Moore said: “We are where we are and it is better that it is demolished.” Some will now agree with that, given that Stirchley already has derelict sites.

But Cllr Peter Douglas-Osborn said it was sad for local people that the facilities had been lost and asked if it was possible to predict if Lidl’s store application will fail the sequential test given the objections?

The Area Planning Officer said that was a matter for discussion at the planning application stage. This is when you will once again have a chance to make your views heard. Please don’t give up on getting a better deal for Stirchley – your objections do count at this stage.

It’s far from over!

Lidl has not listened to local concerns about traffic congestion, loss of community sports/leisure facilities, the prevalence of supermarkets, other available derelict land in the area and other issues. Councillors have raised their own worries about Lidl’s ‘high-handed’, ‘cavalier’, ‘disgraceful’, ‘crude’ approach to a Stirchley store.
Lidl’s previous planning was quashed for a reason and they purchased the site anyway – let’s make them account for the loss of our local facilities, which were a valuable community asset. We also have the chance to to send a message to future potential developers to listen to the community they are entering into.
As one Birmingham councillor said: ““The Lidl Stirchley saga has been a rollercoaster and it’s far from over.”
The council webcast is here – skip to Article 11 on the right side link box:
https://birmingham.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/299273

Get involved

Please keep in contact via our email list, this site or on social media:

Tesco site news

In other news, we were happy to hear that the old KwikSave site, part of the Tesco wasteland, has been bought by local business Printigo and that Venture Bikes will also be moving to the site in 2018, bringing the two businesses further into the high street.

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Lidl boards up Stirchley site but is refused permission to demolish

June 22, 2017
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Photo © Dr Dave Harte

Lidl was today refused permission to demolish Stirchley’s PSL bowling alley and Fitness First site. It was a unanimous refusal by Birmingham City Council until issues around the electric sub-station at the back of the site can be resolved.

Neil Elkes, Local Government Correspondent of the Birmingham Mail and Birmingham Post, live-tweeted the #bcclive planning committee’s shock refusal, reporting that:

“It looks like there’s been a snag on demolition due to electric sub-station, which has to be worked around…

“Lidl has so far been branded ‘high-handed’ ‘cavalier’ ‘disgraceful’ ‘crude’ over the Stirchley store plan.

“Unanimous refusal of demolition of Stirchley bowling alley and fitness first – at least until electric sub station is resolved”

“The Lidl Stirchley saga has been a rollercoaster and it’s far from over.”

He added that Cllr Beauchamp said the power supply issue was a potential ‘hand grenade’ so demolition should be deferred until the power company is happy. The vote to refuse Lidl’s request was unanimous.

Although the committee can’t stop demolition going ahead, it can control method and condition of site after.

Update: watch the #bcclive webcast from today for full comments from Councillors on Lidl’s tactics – Item number 8 at 3min15secs in: https://birmingham.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/291519 

Last week Lidl erected boarding around the Fitness First/PSL Bowling site ready for demolition. Many took to social media to express their disgust at the German supermarket giant’s disregard of the local community’s wishes over losing popular sports and leisure facilities, saying:

“I shall buy no more from Lidl.”

“My girls will be in tears to see the building go down. Hopefully @PSLBowling can find a new location!”

“Sad to see that facility close. Especially when Tesco are selling six vacant lots 400m along the road. Why couldn’t Lidl UK build there?

“This location for a store will only make the bottle neck for traffic worse for us who live here”.

“Sad to see the Stirchley bowl site being boarded up today. Coming soon: period of dereliction; later: a small unnecessary supermarket.”

We at SuperStirchley are proud of how the community has gathered together to make our voices heard and thank all those who supported the petition (2500 signatures and counting) and other protests and actions throughout.

However… we are not giving up just yet.

Lidl’s planning permission, which should never have been granted in the first place by Birmingham City Council, has been quashed as a result of not taking the loss of sports and leisure facilities sufficiently into account. We are awaiting confirmation of this from the courts.

As an action group we are doing what we can to keep up the pressure but we need your help. 

We ask you to be ready for when Lidl reapplies for planning permission: to make clear your objections and put pressure on them to account for the loss of sports and leisure facilities in some way – either with funds for replacement or to build new facilities as part of the development.

Ride the Stirchley Lidl ‘rollercoaster’ with us! 

Please keep in contact via our email list, this site or on social media:

 

 

Letter templates

April 22, 2017

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.

-Team SuperStirchley.

——

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…

stella.manzie@birmingham.gov.uk

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/stirchley
I’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,
Resident
Resident address (important)

Letter to Fitness First Managing Director. Martin.Seibold@fitnessfirst.com

Martin Seibold,

Fitness First Clubs Ltd, 58 Fleets Lane, Poole, Dorset, BH15 3BT

Fitness First – Stirchley, Birmingham, B30 2YB

Dear Martin

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.

Yours sincerely….

Letter to Lidl –

Lidl CEO: Christian Härtnagel christian.haertnagel@lidl.co.uk

Lidl Customer Services: emma.cohen@lidl.co.uk / customer.services@lidl.co.uk

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.

Yours sincerely,

 

 

The latest

April 21, 2017

Fitness First Stirchley members have received letters today confirming the closure of the site.
PSL Bowling have today informed their staff that they have been served notice from the landlord.

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.

Action:

  • 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 christian.haertnagel@lidl.co.uk
    • Lidl Customer Services: emma.cohen@lidl.co.uk / customer.services@lidl.co.uk Lidl UK GmbH, 19 Worple Road Wimbledon, London, SW19 4JS
    • Birmingham City Council Leader (interim): Stella Manzie, stella.manzie@birmingham.gov.uk 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.
Hopefully we’ll have more positive news about those last two bullets at some point in the future, but for now….
With heavy hearts,
SuperStirchley

Lidl ignore planning overturn in Stirchley land buy

April 16, 2017

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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:

  1. Stay in the loop – get campaign updates and news of protests by signing up to our campaign email list here.
  2. Sign the petition if you haven’t already (2,300 signatures so far) – here’s the link
  3. 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
Wimbledon
London
SW19 4JS

Matt Davies, CEO
Tesco Plc
Tesco House
Shire Park
Kestrel Way
Welwyn Garden City
AL7 1GA

Stella Menzies, Interim Chief Executive
Birmingham City Council
Chief Executive’s Office
Birmingham City Council
Council House
Victoria Square
Birmingham
B1 1BB

Most of these actions takes just a few minutes to carry out so please do what you can to Stand Up For Stirchley.

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A lidl update

March 21, 2017

Hello,

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.

Tesco Response

March 8, 2017
We wrote to Tesco yesterday, who kindly replied very promptly. With Alec’s agreement, we’d like to share their response publicly:
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From: Brown, Alec <Alec.Brown@uk.tesco.com>
Sent: 08 March 2017 08:45
To: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
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.

Yours sincerely

Alec

Alec Brown

Head of UK Stakeholder Communications

alec.brown@uk.tesco.com

Cirrus B, Shire Park, Kestrel Way, Welwyn Garden City AL7 1GA

 

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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.