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A tribute to the Environmental Law Foundation

In addition to an amazing array of other commitments, Diana Schumacher is co-founder and vice president of the Environmental Law Foundation (ELF)

It was therefore particularly pleasing to receive this letter forwarded (but not written) by  Peter Walker, the Chairman of the lively award-winning Stirchley Neighbourhood Forum in Birmingham:

You may have read the news on Twitter already but, for those of you who haven’t, here is an update on Birmingham City Council’s planning decision to approve demolition of Fitness First/PSL Bowling in favour of a Lidl supermarket on the site.

Thanks to ongoing free legal support from the Environmental Law Foundation (ELF), a national UK charity that helps people use the law to protect and improve their local environment and quality of life, we have some good news to report. With ELF’s tremendous help in checking over the planning case, and a Stirchley resident and a SuperStirchley supporter willing to be named as the person challenging the public body, we sent a Pre-Action Letter for Judicial Review to Birmingham City Council.

Last night (20 March) SuperStirchley attended a public meeting at Stirchley Community Church called by Cllr Rob Sealey on the topic of Tesco’s withdrawal from its planned Stirchley site. Simon Turner (Planning Officer responsible for city south planning applications) and Ian MacLeod (Assistant Director of Regeneration and Planning) were in attendance. However, before the Tesco discussion began, Cllr Sealey made an announcement on the Lidl application:

“Following the pre-action letter setting out grounds for a judicial review that was sent to the Council by ELF on behalf of local residents, BCC has accepted that the decision had been incorrectly decided. The council will  therefore agree to quash the planning permission previously granted to Lidl. This will not prevent Lidl from making a further application but such an application will be treated as a new application”.

Lidl could still submit another planning application – which would be their third – but it’s possible that would be more difficult to approve following this consent to judgment. We don’t want to raise false hopes if there are implications yet to come out – we are merely stating what was said at the meeting by council officials.

We want to thank Environmental Law Foundation for their incredible help. Please consider becoming a member to support their work – without them we wouldn’t have been able to do this.

Peter adds: “We hope this shows other locals that standing up for things that matter really can make a difference. And as we have always maintained: we are not against Lidl, we were opposing the loss of our facilities”.

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Background information

Reading around the subject it emerged that Birmingham University has joined the growing national network of pro-bono ELF student law clinics. The University of Birmingham Law Clinic Contact Birmingham FLAG has No 5 Chambers in Birmingham as their supervising partner. Two very interesting cases were initially sent for their students to work on – the first was a matter concerning a Parish Council’s statutory duties to local people to provide allotments (where private allotment space had been promised and not delivered.