‘Future generations won’t forgive us’ - Edgbaston Reservoir campaigner speaks out against development plans

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Civic Square co-founder Immy Kaur speaks out about the plans to build houses next to Edgbaston Reservoir which are due to be discussed by Birmingham City Council Cabinet

“I don’t think future generations will forgive us”, a community leader has said about plans to develop on Edgbaston reservoir. She also claims Birmingham City Council’s “long, drawn out consultation period” was “a tactic to exhaust people”.

Immy Kaur is director and co-founder of Civic Square, a community organisation based at Port Loop in Ladywood, working to secure community-led civic infrastructure for future neighbourhoods.

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She has spoken out against plans by the council to develop on the Edgbaston Reservoir which are likely to be approved at next Tuesday’s cabinet meeting. The plans were first suggested in 2017 when the Birmingham Development Plan was drawn up, and the Greater Icknield area was identified as an area for growth.

This area includes the reservoir and Port Loop. The more recent ‘Edgbaston Reservoir Masterplan” has proved controversial with locals, especially the decision to demolish the historic Tower Ballroom.

Under the Masterplan, the Tower Ballroom would be knocked down with developments erected away from the waters’ edge to create a new public walkway and square – which could potentially include an amphitheatre.

The Tower Ballroom at Edgbaston Reservoir, BirminghamThe Tower Ballroom at Edgbaston Reservoir, Birmingham
The Tower Ballroom at Edgbaston Reservoir, Birmingham | Local TV

The council undertook 18 weeks of public consultation and drop in sessions on the masterplan in the last three years, but this process has been criticised by Ms Kaur.

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She said: “There is no way a private developer should be building homes next to the reservoir. There’s no disagreement from our side that homes need to be built. If homes were the only thing that Birmingham City Council were willing to put on that site, then it should be a community land trust, and they should be much more innovative, affordable community homes.

“I don’t think future generations will forgive us for turning what could have been a rich cultural, incredible space for the city, that we turned around and put houses on it with a poor model, just to do some commercial and community spaces underneath.

“It’s been a long drawn out experience that ultimately has exhausted the community who have been involved, often with no compensation. So I would argue that the long drawn out consultation period was a tactic to exhaust people.

“In the end, people don’t know which way to go, and they give up, not because they don’t care, but because the power imbalance is so significant that you can’t break through. It’s really devastating”.

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Edgbaston Reservoir Edgbaston Reservoir
Edgbaston Reservoir | BirminghamWorld Asmita Sarkar

What has Birmingham City Council said about the Edgbaston Reservoir development plans?

Coun Ian Ward, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “This is an area of great strategic importance for the city and its growth and prosperity – the adoption of this masterplan will provide a clear and sustainable way forward for inclusive development in this part of Birmingham.

“We have consulted extensively over many years and this was a genuine process – we have listened to the feedback and refined the draft document so we have the strongest masterplan possible.

“This is a golden decade of opportunity for Birmingham, and Edgbaston Reservoir and the surrounding areas have a key role to play in our future.”

A report which will be considered by cabinet next week states: “Whilst it is recognised that universal support may not be achievable, the redrafted masterplan better reflects the aspirations of the community and water users at the reservoir with several important stakeholders supporting the adoption of the masterplan.”

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