Keith’s Column: Keeping Moseley Local

Sunday, 1st November 2015

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Over the last few years, a small group of people put a lot of time and effort into producing a planning document that would help shape the future of Moseley. This was the Supplementary Planning Document (Moseley SPD). It came into force in 2014.

It’s a lengthy document that sets out a vision for the next ten years, laying down civic priorities on land use and what type of developments the community wants to see. You can wade through its entirety at the following link: www.birmingham.gov.uk/moseleyspd. Just go to the bottom of the page and click on the link.

If you don’t have the time to read all 45 pages, the key section for me is the vision statement, just a few paragraphs in:

1.0.7 Moseley will become a neighbourhood where:

• there is a diverse local economy based around small businesses, tourism and cultural activity.

I really believe in this. If used properly, the SPD could be a great tool to help us preserve the unique character of the Village – to help promote our identity and keep us special and different.

So I was disappointed to learn the Meteor Ford site would become a new M&S. I was horrified to learn that the former Halfords is to become home the latest branch of coffee shop cum bar operator Boston Tea Party. And I was outraged to discover that the former Barclays Bank was to become a new Pizza Express.

To add insult to injury, if and when they do build M&S, this will not only have its own Coffee Shop but Costa Coffee is lined up to take over one of the retail units in the scheme.

None of these are small businesses and none of them are local.

Boston Tea Party has more seats than all other Moseley Coffee shops put together. It has applied for an 11.30pm alcohol license too.

Obviously my family business is hospitality so some folks will say I am just protecting my own interests. Yet I don’t think these businesses will directly impact either The Prince or The Dark Horse. But they will take away the unique character of our High Street. They will squeeze out our independents, with their deep pockets and big marketing budgets, pushing up rents and making it impossible for the small business to set up or survive.

In a few years Moseley will be just like any other suburban centre, fully of cookie cutter brands you can find in Harborne, Sutton or the City Centre.

What can we do? Well as businesses, I am sure local retailers will raise their game. But as citizens we can do two things. We can support our local businesses and we can urge our civic representatives, the organisations that represent our community on planning issues (The Moseley Society, The Moseley Regen Group and the Community Development Trust) to be more forceful. If the SPD says “small businesses”, actively oppose big business.

Let’s keep Moseley Local.

Do you agree with Keith?
Let us know at editor@moseleyb13.com