BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

On a bike, riding somewhere. Every day, rain or shine.

Posts tagged ‘planning’

#365daysofbiking Failed dreams

Wednesday February 3rd 2021 –  It was a wet, cold and intense commute home – and I had to go somewhere I rarely do – Bentley Mill Way, which bisects old industrial land beside the M6 motorway, between Junction 10 and Darlaston.

This is a place where there’s a faded showcase cinema, some of the usual out of town outlet formula stores, a restaurant, and the derelict remnants of an odd attempt to create a night time economic centre here.

At one point there was a pub and a couple of night clubs, and the council were trying to expand it as a leisure area. But the nightclubs closed: When drunken revellers emerged into the cold night onto what was a remote, barren trading estate with no transport and little distraction, there was regular trouble. Development stalled. The project died.

So now the road is a hinterland, lined by scrub, factories, the remnants of the leisure and retail dream, and some dereliction. And now the burghers are trying to get industrial investment here, so have thrown money at improving the local road system, including the odd scheme of lowering the road beneath the 1700s canal aqueduct that limits large vehicle movements to the south.

The millions spent have so far yielded nothing, and the lights under this unusual aqueduct cycle most of the day unwatched by anyone.

But at night, it’s got that wet sheen and urban light thing going on, and it’s strangely captivating.

And there’s always this grimly fascinating, faint smell of failed dreams.

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#365daysofbiking – Better days

February 5th – My energy didn’t give out so I went full circle and attended to an errand in Walsall Wood.

I passed under the Black Cock Bridge, named after the nearby pub. A familiar if ramshackle affair, the bridge has been lifted several times due to subsidence and now exists in a sort of limbo: It’s not got much life left, yet replacement of the structure, on a notorious rat-run, would not be easy and due to the aforementioned subsidence, would probably be better and an under bridge with and aqueduct above.

I suspect eventually it will be closed to through traffic and left, like Hollanders Bridge further up in Walsall Wood.

It’s seen better days, as have I, but I hope there’s a few more to come yet for me. For the first time in weeks, I feel like there might actually be a summer eventually, and wellness might once again be mine.

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#365daysofbiking Telling porkies

August 11th – Still ill and resting, I just went for a short ride around Brownhills, and checked out the recently controversial clearance work on the former Swingbridge Farm site off Northfields Way, between Brownhills and Clayhanger.

The farm that stood here for pretty much 200 years in one form or another finally shut in the early 90s when the adjacent housing estate was built on it’s land. After a period of dereliction, the buildings were demolished, and it seems the rubble and hardstandings were just left where they lay.

It’s possible the land has now been sold, and the owner is in the process of clearing it, and I must say I was unaware of the sheer amount of masonry and rubble remaining. This was really just a drop and run.

There is no planning application currently relevant for the site despite the gossip circulating, but tales of new estates, big houses and other baseless flapdoodle have been circulating like wildfire.

The simple fact is that nobody’s applied for anything yet and an owner is entitled to clear their own land providing the operation is environmentally lawful, and we’ll just have to wait and see.

But that won’t moderate the gossips to any degree…

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#365daysofbiking No place like home

August 2nd – One of the more surprising developments happening locally at the moment is the new care home being built on the Chester Road at Stonnall, on the site of a former concrete block factory and quarry.

The home – which is a large, impressive and has the appearance of being very well built has risen over winter and the preceding spring and seems to be nearing completion.

This doesn’t look to be your average granny farm, but rather a specialist care facility for older folk with particular challenging needs and I think it’s the kind of thing that is needed here with our raging population – and the jobs it provides will be welcome, too.

Part of the development includes road safety improvements here on the Chester Road, which is good to see.

I wish the proprietors and future residents well in this new venture.

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#365daysofbiking Everything counts

March 7th – It’s time for the periodic traffic survey in Walsall, and the sheer number of traffic counter units fitted across the borough’s roads is causing some comment on social media.

They aren’t sinister at all: By law local authorities have to take traffic counts for planning and other reasons and like most councils now, the work is deputised to a specialist contractor.

These Metrocount units – that use the familiar, traditional rubber air tube and pressure switch technique are surprisingly sophisticated and the manual for them was found online by The Stymaster – you can read it here.

I crossed at least eight between Brownhills and Darlaston. Just setting them all up and gathering them back must be a mammoth task, let alone analysing the data…

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#365daysofbiking Into the madness:

November 28th – Telford, that evening, viewed from the Euston Way.

Telford looks best at night. The station is crowded due to a cancelled train. The train I’m expecting is late. This is not going to be fun.

The lights, the steel and glass, the pretentions to being internationalist, commercial, vital and a centre for financial business work best at night.

In reality, Telford is an industrial and commercial sprawl, but it ain’t all that.

But it could have been a contender.

Oh well, into the madness…

#365daysofbiking Here I stand:

November 6th – One thing I forgot in the years I hadn’t been coming to Redditch is a small rule that also applies to fellow new town Telford – never risk an unknown shortcut when in a hurry.

I was dashing for the train. I took what I thought would be a route around by the bus station and under the subway to the station. Instead, I lost all sense of direction totally and ended up on a ringway flyover overlooking it, a good 10 metres above where I needed to be with no easy way back other than to retrace my steps.

Urban design on such an inhuman scale does not make for intuitive routes.

Redditch should come with a decent cheat sheet for those on foot and cycling….

365daysofbiking Decent, enough:

October 6th – From the wailing and gnashing of the NIMBYs of Aldridge, anyone would think that the block of apartments planned for the long derelict land right at the bottom of High Street on the Elms Island would be some monstrous, hideous carbuncle that didn’t fit with it’s surroundings at all.

Studying it closely while in the village of 26,000 on Saturday afternoon, I actually decided I quite liked it. I’m not fond of the flat roof, which is a cop out in design terms, but the rest of it is an interesting blend of textures and colours, and is actually quite bland, really. It’s not too big, it certainly doesn’t block light to the hHigh Street as some alleged and it seems a good match for the rather stark pub nearby.

I’m sure the elderly folk it’s built for will enjoy living close to the amenities of the ‘village’ centre, too, and it will help keep the local retailers busy.

It seems a decent thing to me.

August 24th – At Chester Road near the Stonnall turning, just before Castlehill, change is afoot. The old quarry with the hardstanding, idle since the 50s after it’s use as a concrete block manufacturing works is now undergoing groundworks for the construction of a new care home.

There have been a number of planning applications for this site over recent times, and permission for a fairly large elderly person’s care facility was granted last year and will involve extensive modifications to the road to mitigate the driveway.

It’ll be interesting to watch this progress.

August 8th – Unusually, I was in Redditch visiting a supplier and despite the (currently rare) overcast day, I was reminded of what gorgeous, surprising corners the new town has.

Redditch gets a lot of stick – much of it deserved – for dull planning and generally being a product of postwar urban design; but where it works – Lick the respectfully preserved Church Green or the gorgeous Arrow Valley Country Park, with the time hamlet of Ipsley preserved within – it’s rather wonderful.

I actually like this place a lot. There, I said it.