Walsall’s Planning Committee granted planning permission for a Go-Karting Centre and Laser Centre at the Alvar Business Park in Straight Road, Short Heath, Willenhall. Both Centres will be able to operate between the hours of 10am and 8pm seven days a week 365 days a year.
I voted against granting planning permission along with my Lib Dem colleague cllr John Cook. Cllr Doreen Shires addressed the committee supporting those local residents who opposed the the application.
We opposed the application not because we thought that the concept was a bad one, but because of the disruption that this facility, in this location, will cause to traffic, the effect on the local environment, and more importantly, on the lives of the residents of Straight Road, Drancy Avenue and Stourmore Close.
The applicants case for granting planning permission was based around the idea that the two centres would provide a facility for young people in an area where there was little for them to do and thus reduce anti social behaviour across the area. With costs at around £15 for a 20 minute session it was our view that this facility would prove unaffordable for the majority of those that the applicants claimed would benefit.
Most of the evidence that we gleaned from the internet of similar centres around the Black Country showed that adults were the main users of the centres.
The facility would cater for around 15 competitors per 20 minute session which conservatively would lead to around 60 vehicle movements per hour adding to congestion in the area.
On site parking would be shared with the other 5 units and inevitably will lead to parking off site, the residents car park directly opposite in Drancy Avenue being the obvious target.
There were a number of inconsistences in the officers report not least of which was their claim that Straight Road was well served by public transport, in particular bus services 26,40,41,and 69. That has not been the case since the bus review a year ago which has left Straight Road with just one service, the 26 Bloxwich to Bilston service.
Our arguments fell on deaf ears and as a result the residents are going to have to live with these centres on their doorsteps from 10 in the morning to 8 at night, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
Not one of the Planning Committee’s best decisions I would suggest. Only time will tell who is right. The difference is that they don’t have to live their, the residents don’t have that choice.