An inspector from the Bristol-based Planning Inspectorate has upheld an appeal by a property developer to build 13 4-bed roomed luxury homes with double garages on the stretch of natural woodland on the Thimblemill Rec site.
Ward councillor Richard Marshall who led the protest to the planning committee said, “This is a real sickener. I'm gutted, and very annoyed. This represents the last remaining piece of natural woodland in the whole of Smethwick, and I don't think due consideration was given to that. There are dozens of potential building sites within easy walking distance from here, but these people choose to run their bulldozers through an area of natural undeveloped woodland which contains bats, owls and a wide variety of insect species. Nor do I think anyone considered fully the highways issues in respect of the planned entrance on to Thimblemill Road. This is an already dangerous stretch of road, where children cross to get to school, and where safety measures have already had to be put in place, and yet it will now have yet another hazard point. If a child dies or is badly injured here, someone will have to examine their conscience, because I will be making clear to people that we advised in advance that it was dangerous.”
Abbey councillor Steve Eling said, “Yet again we find a faceless, unaccountable planning inspector kicks the local community in the teeth. Well over 1,000 people signed a petition opposing this development, and whilst we hear a lot of guff from the government about the so-called 'big society' or 'localism', but when it comes down to it they are vacuous remarks by people and a lot of hot air generated by people who don't give a damn what is in the local interest.”