Birmingham shipping container park plan approved despite concerns

A shipping container park that will be used to “maximise opportunities” for the Commonwealth Games in Perry Barr had its planning permission approved, despite coming under fire from Conservative councillors.

Rendered image of Perry Barr Container Park Phase 1 From North, Galey Park on Walsall Road
Rendered image of Perry Barr Container Park Phase 1 From North, Galey Park on Walsall Road

Birmingham City Council was accused of a “real failure of vision” over the plans.

The site will be made up of 14 initial containers and four big screens showing sports events and films prior to the Commonwealth Games in July and August this year. A further 72 containers will be installed after the event, to be used for commercial and leisure purposes, with a children’s play area and a marketing suite also installed.

A planning officer at Tuesday’s meeting said the containers were “very innovative”, but Councillor Dominic Stanford disagreed and called the application a “wasted opportunity”.

Image of Perry Barr Container Park Phase 1 From North, Galey Park on Walsall Road

“I would like to express my particular disappointment at this application from the council,” Councillor Stanford said.

“We were all assured the Commonwealth Games would have a legacy long beyond the two weeks of sport. This application seems to suggest that legacy is seven years of shipping containers instead.

“This site is used as a construction yard for the ongoing residential development in the area. Adding over 80 shipping containers to this area will just ensure that it looks more like a construction yard or a shipping yard for a further seven years, and I think it’s a bit of a wasted opportunity.

“It’s a real failure in terms of vision to have not made a more permanent, longer-lasting commercial and cultural amenity space on this site.”

Councillor Gareth Moore agreed with his fellow Conservative councillor and referred to the removal of the Perry Barr flyover last year to prove his point.

He said: “I recall when part of the argument for the demolition of the flyover was that it was going to have a visual impact on the future occupiers of the residential scheme being built in Perry Barr. I’m not sure how 86 shipping containers is any better.

“Most of Perry Barr has been flattened and it doesn’t seem as though it’s going to get any better with these shipping containers. I don’t understand why we need seven years’ worth of shipping containers after the games, it’s perhaps not the legacy that leaders led us to believe would be happening.”

In defence of the application, the planning officer said that it will be in “nobody’s interests” if the shipping containers look like “rust buckets”.

“It is a very innovative way to provide an appropriate temporary use whilst the long-term plans come forward really,” he said.

“We’ve seen a number of these sorts of facilities popping up across the country in Brixton, Croydon, Newcastle, Sheffield and Manchester. As a temporary feature, it has a lot to offer Perry Barr.”

Although the container park is not part of the official Commonwealth Games infrastructure, its proximity to Alexander Stadium, which is just over a mile down Walsall Road, indicates that there could be some collaboration.

A Birmingham City Council spokesman said: "This project will bring a temporary use to a site which is earmarked for eventual development as housing for the people of the city. The project is set to offer something new for people in Perry Barr and surrounding areas, complementing the £700 million-plus investment that is currently going into the area. We look forward to the site becoming operational soon."

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