Birmingham Wheels Japanese knotweed work approved despite objections

Plans to clear the former Birmingham Wheels site of invasive Japanese knotweed have been approved despite more than 500 objections.

An aerial view of the Birmingham Wheels site. Photo: Google
An aerial view of the Birmingham Wheels site. Photo: Google

The Birmingham City Council-owned motor racing site closed in October and the sports operators who were former tenants as well as fans are concerned the planning application would impact on the site’s future.

Birmingham City Council’s planning committee voted unanimously to approve the application to clear 9,160 square metres of Japanese knotweed.

The council was awarded funding from the Government’s Levelling Up Fund to “remediate” the former Birmingham Wheels site which previously provided sports including racing and speed skating.

The application voted on today had been opposed in a total of 594 objections – which raised concerns that development of the site was around the corner.

David Carter of Friends of Birmingham Wheels – which includes the users and operators of the site – said there was “urgent” need for a deferral of the committee’s decision in order for a works compound to be relocated.

He also called for clarification of the conditions to enable the sports facilities to be “immediately reopened”.

He said: “Last October we were evicted from the site without our future being addressed as per the requirements of the Birmingham Development Plan and the National Planning Policy Framework.

“This despite the rent being paid on time and in full throughout Covid, and the facilities being the busiest in their history.

“We were advised that the removal of Japanese knotweed was urgent even though it has been on the site for over 20 years.

“We contend that this planning application should be deferred to relocate the proposed compound elsewhere on the site.

“It’s location on the drifting area and car park effectively prevents the operations of sports facilities and therefore conflicts with both local and national policy.”

He said the planning application showed remedial works “far beyond” the clearing of Japanese knotweed and said a condition should be included to limit works only to the removal of the weed.

He called for the committee to specify that all future proposals for the site should “enable consolidation and improvement of the sports facilities on-site or ensure those facilities are successfully relocated”.

Agent Simon Croxford, speaking in favour of the plans, said the application was concerned with “the treatment of Japanese knotweed only”.

He said: “There is an obligation on the landowner – in this case, Birmingham City Council – to prevent Japanese knotweed that is present on the Wheels site from spreading off your property.

“You do not legally have to remove Japanese knotweed from your land unless it is causing a nuisance.

“But BCC as the landowner could be prosecuted for causing it to be spread into the wild.”

Committee chair Councillor Karen McCarthy suggested the point about the compound could be addressed with an informative note requesting the location of the compound to minimise impact on the existing facilities.

The committee did not decided to defer the item and voted unanimously in favour of the plans.

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