The Forum has lodged an objection to a planning application announced by Lidl. The multinational supermarket giant wanted to replace the current Silver Street store with a new, and much bigger building. Lidl is a low-cost supermarket, so it is important to many Kings Heath residents but the plans raised serious concerns.
One of the most important was concern about increase in heavy goods traffic. The company denied that there would be any increase in the number of juggernauts turning into Silver Street. However, it is difficult to see how such a claim could be made. The new store shown on the plans would have been bigger than the existing one so it would need more stock. It was clearly designed to attract more shoppers. That would have meant more sales and therefore there would have to be more deliveries.
The only way to cut the number of lorries arriving would have been to use even bigger vehicles.
This, in turn, would have made congestion in Kings Heath even worse. In addition, these extra lorries would add to air pollution which has already made the High Street the fourth most polluted street in Birmingham. (Birmingham’s most polluted roads)
The Forum also raised concern about parking. Lidl has already bought the nearby car park from Birmingham City Council. The company has attracted criticism recently for the way it tries to enforce parking fines. In some places it is alleged to have provided 10-minute free parking. However, anybody overstaying their time is hit with a £90 fine. There are already proposals to take parking off the High Street. Losing this 102-space public car park will be a major blow for shoppers in Kings Heath.
The proposed building would be considerably higher than the existing store. That would be bound to affect local residents as would the increased traffic and other matters, such as things bigger, more powerful air conditioning units.
Overall the Kings Heath Residents’ Forum said that the proposal by Lidl could only be damaging to Kings Heath residents. That is why the Residents’ Forum lodged a formal objection to the planning application.
The latest development in this story is that Lidl has recently withdrawn the original planning application. However, it is preparing a new scheme. Councillor Claire Spencer has said that she would like the scheme to be discussed with residents. The period for lodging objections to the original proposal has ended but members of the Residents’ Forum will be watching developments closely and will assess the new proposals before deciding what to do next.