Planning Victory for Eastside City Park

Digbeth Residents Association are strong supporters of Eastside City Park, and firmly believe in the preservation of Birmingham’s newest park in over 100 years.

Recently, a 24-hour alcohol licence application was made by a convenience store at Masshouse Plaza, which if granted, would have allowed the owners to sell alcohol 24 hours a day. DRA was worried about the implications of such a move on the family-friendly environment of the park.

Chairperson of DRA, John Gordon, raised the issue at the Nechells Ward Meeting, asking all three of our councillors to also personally object to the application. We also made a call to residents of Hive to inform them of the application and its implications.

This week, the announcement was made that the 24-hour alcohol licence would not be granted. DRA are happy with this decision – you can read the full objection submitted including our reasons below. We would like to thank the Nechells Ward Councillors Tahir Ali, Yvonne Mosquito and Chauhdry Rashid for their support, and warmly invite them along with residents of Hive at Masshouse to future DRA meetings.

To: licensing@birmingham.gov.uk
Subject: Alcohol Licence Application at Masshouse Plaza

On behalf of the Friends of Eastside Park, and as the Chair of Digbeth Residents Association, I would wish to have the following objections raised regarding the proposed sale of alcohol by the premises located at Unit 1, Block H1, 2 Masshouse Plaza, B5 5JE.

We believe that the intention to sell alcohol twenty-four hours a day through a hatch will have a detrimental effect on the quality of life for local residents and have a substantial impact on the adjacent £11.75 million Eastside Park development.

Our concerns include the following;

1.01 We believe that the sale of alcohol at these times will lead to increased drunkenness, anti-social behaviour and littering in the new park, likewise the large number of homes that are part of the same development will be affected.

1.02 There is a relatively strong link between alcohol consumption and crime. Therefore, we suspect that this proposal will contribute to increased levels of offending within the park and make it less safe for those who use it or live near it. We request that the views of the local police service are sought and taken into consideration.

1.03 During the summer there were significant problems with littering and safety issues regarding broken glass in areas of the park designed to be safe places for children to play. This will be exacerbated by the proposal.

1.04 We believe that the availability of alcohol in this manner may result in additional safety issues regarding events in the park and we request that the appropriate services are consulted prior to a licence being considered.

1.05 There are concerns about the ‘customer base’ for late night and early morning alcohol sales. If it is only safe to conduct such sales through a hatch, maybe the retailer appreciates that a significant number of his potential customers may be ‘topping up’, having already been out drinking or have other characteristics that require additional safeguards for staff. Safeguards that would not be available to the local residents and the wider public in the area.

1.06. There are no public toilets in the park or adjacent to the retail premises, we suspect that this will result in an increase in a very specific form of anti-social behaviour in the vicinity of the Hive and around Eastside City Park.

1.07 The proposed late sale of alcohol arrangements will result in the premisses becoming a destination point, rather than serving a local community. Therefore, there will be secondary impacts of vehicles parking where there is no real parking provision, and associated noise issues from customers. This might particularly be the case for those who arrive having not managed to buy enough alcohol during the traditional opening times of other retailers.

1.08 We believe that in many ways this proposal is at odds with several of Birmingham City Council’s responsibilities and policies relating to the broader health and well-being of the community, social cohesion, and strategies for enjoying our relatively few green open spaces.

1.09 The proposal has the potential to impact on how the park is used and perceived – a Muslim woman pushing her child’s buggy through the park, surrounded by the the debris of last night’s alcohol consumption; a young family playing in the fountain with broken bottles not far away and an older person who reads about alcohol fuelled incidents of crime –  may never return to the park. We have to take the modest steps that are available to reduce the decline of our urban open spaces, we suggest that this is one such small opportunity.

1.09 We understand that there is a need for retail premises at The Hive, including alcohol sales, but to take this outside of normal retail opening hours would add little to the community, while having the potential to cause significant longer term harm to those who live, work, study or find recreation and entertainment in the area.

Will you please acknowledge our objection, advise us of the next stage of the application process and let us know of any arrangements regarding meetings where decisions are going be made.

Kind regards,

John Gordon
Chair of Digbeth Residents Association
Vice-Chair of The Friends of Eastside Park

Pamela Pinski

Digbeth and Proud

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