Consultation on Bearwood Road improvements

The Abbey Ward councillors will holding a consultation in September on a set of proposals aimed at brightening up Bearwood Road and dealing with some of the issues that have been raised with us in recent years.

Sandwell Council has earmarked around a million pounds for projects, and whilst we have some proposals we want to hear the views of local people about them, as well as hearing some ideas that we may be able to implement now or in the future.

Some of the proposals we already have include improving pedestrian crossings, tree planting on Bearwood Road, living walls, new waste bins, dealing with the ‘shabby’ gateway entrance near the Hagley Road junction, and removing clutter and surplus signage.

Planning Officers are currently drawing together the proposals in to a consultation document, and when that is ready we will post them on the blog, put them in public places like the library, and we will be arranging a couple of drop-in sessions where people can see the details, ask questions, and make their suggestions for improvements.

Abbey Councillor Steve Eling said,

“This consultation will be about real improvements that are going to happen. We are keen to get things moving now that the money is in place and we look forward to talking to residents and traders and receiving consultation responses.”

We know that with only a million pounds we can’t do some of the things that people will want to see, but we are open to ideas, and if some things aren’t immediately affordable, they can certainly be factored in as part of a longer term plan for Bearwood. We also have to be aware of issues which have competing demands. For instance, some people would want a completely pedestrianised Bearwood Road, but we have to balance that with whether it would drive more traders away, or cause major traffic issues in residential side streets.

Also, despite what some people think, the council don’t own any of the shops on Bearwood Road. We cannot decide who they are let to, nor how much the rent is set at. They are owned by private landlords, so contributions saying, “We want a shop which sells fresh fish/books/gentlemen’s outfitting etc.” are no doubt interesting, but not something we can control.

More information to follow shortly….

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14 Responses to Consultation on Bearwood Road improvements

  1. Danny D says:

    Is there a long term plan to buy back shop leases so that the council can decide on rent and control the balance of the high street?

    • Bob says:

      We’ve looked at the prospect of buying the shops at the top end of Bearwood Road where the owners have gone in to administration, but to be honest I don’t think we could do anything in the foreseeable future because the money is not there. Long term, maybe, but a bit depends on the retail environment and whether there is a future for the number of shops we have on Bearwood Road. I’ve even heard people say we should consider the potential for a CPO of the properties and demolishing them for alternative use. The current consultation is really about the more immediate plans though.

  2. keithbracey says:

    Interested to read about ‘Bearwood’s shabby gateway’ at Hagley Road King’s Head……I heartily agree that Bearwood Gateway is shabby and does not reflect the vibrancy of the town and the fantastic assets we have in Lightwoods Park and Warley Woods, the ‘People’s Park’

    How about a piece of ‘public art’….a wooden sculpture of a ‘Bearwood Bear’ or anything else that Bearwoodians are agreed on, on that piece of land behind the redundant toilets……

    You can buy a small wooden bear made by an artist from Moseley with a chainsaw for 40 quid from Martineau Gardens in Edgbaston…..

    200 quid would make a fine ‘Bearwood Bear’ wooden statue…..

    Why not run a competition to design a fitting piece of public art for Bearwood….? And then in a great piece of ‘Community Engagement’ ask Bearwoodians to vote on it?

    Be it a Bear or not I would support that……It could be a ‘giant pen’ as British Pens at the bottom of Bearwood Road spread literacy around the world from Bearwood, or a statue of William Mitchell who owned ‘British Pens’

    Or what about a ‘Midland Red Bus’ as an interactive exhibit to celebrate another major Bearwood company that provided many jobs for Bearwoodians……..?

    Or a statue of Bearwood’s own VC, won at Gallipoli, Major Herbert James VC or the great Brummie General, born in Poplar Avenue on the Poplars Estate off Sandon Road, Viscount General William ‘Bill’ Slim who attended King Edward’s School as a contemporary of Birmingham writer JRR Tolkien with whom he served on the Western Front in The Great War.

    Viscount Slim led ‘The Forgotten Army’ of largely Birmingham soldiers and Indian Army troops who saved India and the British Empire after the disaster of the surrender of Singapore in 1942 by defeating the Imperial Japanese Army at the battles of Kohima and Imphal late in the second world war…….

    Or another suggestion….. a statue of Bearwood star Julie Walters, born in nearby Bishopton Road off Adkins Lane……

    That is the beauty of a competition people come up with great ideas…….

    Why don’t Bearwood Councillors trust the Bearwood Community to come up with something appropriate rather than unilaterally declaring what happens at ‘The Bearwood Gateway’…….be it Bear statue, a Midland Red ‘Buzz’ a giant pen, a Julie Walters tribute or a statue to a war hero

    The Black Country artist chap ( Luke ?) who did the letters piece of art at Bearwood Road school could be involved or judge the competition……….?

    What do other Bearwood folk think?

    • Bob says:

      Keith, we haven’t ‘unilaterally’ or otherwise declared what will happen there. Whilst I personally couldn’t claim to be madly (or even mildly) enthused about the concept of ‘bear statues’, we are having a consultation which Abbey residents will be welcome to express their views and make suggestions.

    • The only problem with public art is there will always be a significant proportion of people who hate it! I quite like the idea of a Julie Walters statue as so many statues are of men or monarchs.

  3. keithbracey says:

    What about a ‘Public Art’ competition to encourage ‘community engagement’ in the wider Bearwood community……are you ruling that out?

  4. keithbracey says:

    Good so perhaps a piece of ‘Public Art’ is not a non-starter after all…..just look at the interest created in West Bromwich by the ‘Three Degrees’ statue…….I know you probably think that a bit gimmicky too Bob…….n’est ce-que pas?????

  5. keithbracey says:

    Thanks for your support Jessica for my ‘Bearwood Public Art’ idea…….obviously not popular with our Councillors because it will cost money, and most councils have none….I should know I was made redundant by SMBC ‘Bete Noire’ Birmingham City Council 4 years ago……

    These two neighbouring councils should be working together in my opinion for the ‘Greater Good’ but petty parochial politics always gets in the way……..

    Having worked in inward investment for Birmingham for nearly 20 years how much better our inward investment offer (and I include the Black Country Boroughs in this) if we were known as ‘Greater Birmingham’…..

    But no……Sandwell, Dudley et al, don’t want to see their identity sublimated by ‘Big Brother #Birmingham’…….

    Not good In my opinion if you want to appeal to Chinese and American inward investors….who has heard of an amorphous concept like ‘The Black Country’ whereas ‘Greater Birmingham’…..?

    I rest my case…….

    Rant over!!!!!!

    • Bob says:

      “Obviously not popular with our Councillors because it will cost money..”

      Rubbish! Not only don’t I know the views of my fellow councillors, so I don’t know how you do…but I’ve never once said my antipathy to the idea is anything at all to do with money. The reason I don’t fancy the idea of ‘wooden bear statues’ is they sound bloody tacky, to be honest…but that’s only my opinion.

      As for ‘petty parochial politics’ we have worked pretty well with Birmingham (perhaps since they elected a more sensible leadership) in recent years and we are working closely with them to bring the clock back to Bearwood. Perhaps you’re slightly ‘out of the loop’ these days Keith.

  6. keithbracey says:

    Keep your hair on Bob……obviously touched a nerve………?

  7. Steve says:

    Fortunately the Bearwood residents that I have spoken to since we announced that we will be consulting are looking forward to being part of deciding what we will do, without the need for any ranting.

    I have to say though that I’ve had lots of positive comments about the return of the clock but no one has mentioned having a cut-out plywood bear. Maybe that will come up in the consultation.

    Either way, it is good that we have been able to get a decent sum of money, especially when you take account of the cuts to the Council’s budget. From the people I speak to, they know the Council doesn’t run shops and that this has to be about what’s called the improving the public realm, but we will be able to deal with many of the things people are concerned about. So, we can look forward to Bearwood being better because of it – and that’s what we as the locally elected Councillors are about.

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