New school, homes and first new public park in Sandwell’s history to be provided at Brandhall
Published 20th July 2022
Sandwell's Cabinet has approved plans to provide a brand-new primary school, around 190 new homes and the first new public park in Sandwell’s 48-year history at the former Brandhall Golf Course.
A report to today’s (Wednesday 20 July) Cabinet meeting outlined the findings of a public consultation on proposals for the future of the site.
Councillors considered five different options and decided to provide a new primary school to replace the existing Causeway Green Primary School, where buildings are now ageing and no longer economical to maintain.
They also decided to develop a 26-hectare park as well as keeping the 1.47 hectares at the existing Parsons Hill Park.
And they agreed to provide space for around 190 homes, of which a minimum of 25% would be ‘affordable homes’.
Scrutiny Board Chairs have advised they intend to initiate the call-in process in relation to this decision, in line with the council’s constitution.
The number of new homes needed in Sandwell is currently much greater than those being built. While Sandwell has a ‘brownfield first’ policy for development, even using all brownfield sites available will still leave a significant shortfall in how many new homes the government has calculated Sandwell will need over the coming years.
The five options for councillors to choose from were as follow – and they chose Option 3:
- 1a. No change
- 1b. Developing a new public park (35 hectares plus 1.47 hectares retaining Parsons Hill Park)
- 2. Providing land for a new primary school (2.68 hectares) and a new public park (32 hectares plus 1.47 hectares for Parsons Hill Park)
- 3. Providing land for a new primary school (2.68 hectares), a new public park (26 hectares plus 1.47 hectares for Parsons Hill Park) and around 190 new homes (5 hectares)
- 4. Providing land for a new primary school (2.68 hectares), a new public park (21.9 hectares plus 1.47 hectares for Parsons Hill Park) and around 360 new homes (9 hectares)
Cabinet also endorsed a proposal to designate part of the site – the larger part of the site which will not be developed – as a Site of Local Importance for Nature Conservation (SLINC).
The council has a duty to consider and balance competing priorities for the area. These include ecology and the preservation of green space, the need for high-quality school facilities and significant demand for new housing, including affordable homes.
Each option will require different levels of investment, so councillors also had to consider the impact on council resources and other local services when making their decision.
The report to Cabinet included details of housing and school needs as well as technical information on ecology and SLINCs.
Councillor Peter Hughes, Sandwell Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Growth, said: “We are pleased to be providing a much-needed new primary school and housing, as well as creating a new public park – the first in Sandwell’s 48-year history. These will serve local people for generations to come.
“This is a significant investment in vital, state-of-the-art educational facilities that will help give children in the local area the best possible start in life.
“We have decided that creating space for around 190 new homes – significantly fewer than the 550 proposed as part of last year’s consultation – is the right balance for the site, having listened to all views and information. There is a desperate need for more housing in Sandwell, especially affordable housing, and we must fulfil our duties to make land available for this.
“Under this option, we will be investing in a large, brand-new, high-quality park, making up around 70% of the site. Currently, the site is not managed or maintained as a publicly accessible park, so we will now be able to make the green space at Brandhall much more accessible for all of the local community to use and enjoy.
“We have also approved the designation of the majority of the site as a Site of Local Importance for Nature Conservation, which will give greater protection to the ecology of this space. We commit to working closely with the Birmingham and Black Country Wildlife Trust to ensure any impact on wildlife is mitigated and the remainder of the site is improved to increase biodiversity as much as possible.
“We have taken the decision that we feel best meets the future needs of the local community, and Sandwell as a whole.”
Julia Shingler, Headteacher at Causeway Green Primary School, said: “We are delighted to hear that Sandwell Council will be providing a new school. Our current site has served us for many years and will hold many special memories for several generations of pupils and staff.
“However, a replacement school is much needed for our local community. The school buildings are ageing, uneconomical to repair and can’t keep being patched up. We very much welcome this news that the local community will benefit from a brand-new school to continue providing high-quality education in modern facilities that are fit to serve children and staff for generations to come.”
Photos show a broken window and damaged gym roof at Causeway Green Primary School