- Posted by: Valerie Vaz MP
- Category: News
I welcome the news that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has now agreed with Historic England’s decision that Great Barr Hall is downgraded to Grade II after I wrote to Historic England to re-examine Great Barr Hall’s grading.
My constituents are concerned about the planning application’s use of enabling development to build on the Green Belt. The developers are arguing that the Hall is of such historic importance that the construction of 57 houses on the Green Belt, which is also historic Grade II listed parkland, is justified to enable its restoration. But the fabric of the building has significantly altered since it was originally listed in 1971. The building is a shell with no roof, very little interior detail remains and parts of the building have been demolished. The dilapidation has worsened during the present ownership.
Documents submitted with the planning application to Walsall MBC indicated that the first priority would be to build 19 luxurious mansions for the owners/developers on the historic parkland and the rest of the 57 house gated community, so there is no guarantee that work to the Hall would even take place. To put it bluntly – they are having a laugh.
There is no identified need for building on the Green Belt. Walsall MBC said in 2011 that ‘there is plenty of capacity for house building not just for the next 5 years but until 2026’. The proposals submitted to Walsall MBC are in breach of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), they do not set out any special circumstances to outweigh the immense damage this development would do to the Green Belt and listed historic parkland, and the disruption it would cause to local residents. Additionally, irresponsible ownership should not be rewarded by the Council.
I met with the Environment Agency (EA) and Beacon Action Group representatives on Friday 4 November to discuss environmental issues. The owners have not carried out essential repairs to the lower lake which is a reservoir, and for which they are responsible. The EA has now had to serve legal notices on the owners to force them to carry out repairs. At every turn the current owners have shown a complete disregard for the upkeep of the Hall and Parkland.
Local residents and I want to protect the Green Belt and historic parkland and buildings.