When Public Highways Can Be Closed

I’ve found some information online concerning the closure of public highways and how this has to happen. Its interesting reading when applied to Hazelwell Lane:

“Permanent diversions and closures

Public rights of way may be closed or diverted for a variety of reasons:

Unnecessary highway

A public right of way may be closed if it can be deemed to be unnecessary and if there is a nearer or more commodious route available to the public. Such closures are processed under section 116 of the Highways Act 1980.

Applications under section 116 are made to the magistrates’ court and are subject to a consultation process.  As such, objections may be made by members of the public or other interested parties such as rights of way user groups or utilities companies.


To enable development

A landowner may apply to divert or extinguish a public right of way if they have planning permission to develop the land over which the right of way runs.  Such applications are made under section 257 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

As with applications made under the Highways Act 1980, a consultation process is carried out that may result in objections to the proposed order.  However, applications made under the Town and Country Planning Act are not heard by the magistrates’ court.  When a proposed order receives objections, the Secretary of State has the power to decide whether or not to approve the closure or diversion of the right of way.  In many cases, a public inquiry will be held to decide whether or not the order will be approved.  As such, applying for a closure or diversion under the Town and Country Planning Act can be a lengthy process and is not always successful.


In the interest of the landowner or public

Under section 118 of the Highways Act 1980, landowners may apply to divert a public right of way on their land if they can demonstrate that it is beneficial to move the path and that the alternative route will not be less convenient or less enjoyable to the public.


If the path is not needed for public use

Applications to extinguish public rights of way may also be made under section 118 of the Highways Act 1980 on the grounds that it is no longer needed for public use.  The process for an extinguishment is similar to that of a diversion.”

As Hazelwell Lane is still on record as a public highway it would seem permission was not applied for by Tesco to close the road – does anyone remember a consultation around the closure of Hazelwell Lane?


Update on the status of Hazelwell Lane

The sentiment of many

Following our ‘As the Crow Flies’ walk I can confirm that according to records held by Birmingham City Council on 3rd July 2017 that “Hazelwell Lane in Stirchley is a highway maintainable at the public expense  (adopted).”

We believe this means that the public road is still a public right of way, and chimes with the offer back in February to reopen the road. But let us know if we’re wrong! If so it bodes well  for maintaining a public right of way in the long term all the way to Hunts Road and the River Rea crossing, restoring a well used, much needed, hugely missed route significant to Stirchley’s connectivity and heritage, whoever is the new owner/developer of the site.

As Tesco have scraped away the surface and paths, making the surface uneven and difficult to traverse – essentially making it impossible for anyone to use this public highway – in the short term there would need to be a walkway or surface laid before people could use it as a through route.

We’ll be active in raising awareness that this is still a public highway and right of way – look out for our tweets and this blog.

What closure of Hazelwell Lane means

As The Crow Flies – from the high point to the low point.


Our walk,  ‘As The Crow Flies’, part of the renown Jane JacobJanes’ walk network,took place last Sunday afternoon in Stirchley, Birmingham. We started at two different points on each side of the Rea Valley and tried to meet in the middle. We wanted to make a public walk because we think Hazelwell Lane is important in terms of moving through Stirchley and that involving the community in the design and layout of its public realm is vital to ensuring it works well for them. Hazelwell Lane was closed to the public by Tesco in late 2016 and despite assurances in early 2017 when they withdrew from development they have not reopened the road. Tesco are now selling their land instead of building a supermarket and it seemed timely to revisit the site as a community.

The walk was full of questions about the future of the area and its overall connectivity, with Hazelwell Lane being key to movement. We know from our visit to Hazelwell Allotments and personal experience that the closing off of this road is a major inconvenience and creates a disconnect in the area. Our route from Bournville Station took us past all 6 of the sites for sale by Tesco. Proceeding from Maryvale Road brought us to Pershore Road and past lot 1, an overgrown square shaped parcel, fenced off for years, past lot 2, the old Kwik Save (now sold apparently). Then to the Triangle, an open space, but prior to demolition a reclamation yard.  The Tesco plans were for it to be a public ‘square’, and Stirchley Birds undertook initial design development work with BPN architects to develop a concept for the public realm that would benefit the Stirchley area. Will the Triangle remain an open space?


The group chose to walk around the gyratory instead of taking the direct route so they could look at how connections could be made across the gyratory and link to Bournville Lane and Stirchley Park. The group recalled how a pocket of land opposite the Friends Meeting House was promised to the community around the time of the loss of the bowling green to the baths car park.

The Promised Land

Connectivity across the gyratory would be ideal. There is a line of site and a desire line waiting to be walked.

And then onto the final 3 lots of land and we arrived on Hazelwell Lane, always the  low point in the valley, but now a low point experientially. It’s so frustrating to be able to see where you want to be able to go and not be able to go there, due to the carelessness of a corporation. And to know that everything that was there before, from houses to community facilities has been removed, all value is gone. We made a poster of the main thoughts and questions we had during the walk and on arrival at the barrier.

The future of Stirchley’s connectivity revolves around retaining Hazelwell Lane. We need to know if Hazelwell Lane is still an adopted i.e. public road.


Another poster was made at the other side and small birds made their way along a wire across the land. The posters were left onsite – we welcome additions to the crows and would love it if you tweeted us when you do.




The Significance of Hazelwell Lane

In 2012 Place Prospectors delivered a project ‘Hazelwell Lane In Memoriam’, at a time when the Working Mens Club, Community Centre and houses still stood.

Hazelwell Lane circa 1940 by Jenni Coles Harris

The project recognised the significance of Hazelwell Lane as:

A major East/West thoroughfare in the area linking routes to Kings Heath across to the Station, Canal and Bournville.

A green space link, connecting parks, allotments, river to parks and canal on the other side of the valley.

A mixed use street combining residential, light industry and education. This is illustrated by Jenni Coles Harris’ image above showing Hazelwell Lane in the 1940’s.


Place Prospectors held a candle lit vigil using candles made in the form of caravans, houses, books, workers and pigs, all significant in the success that was Hazelwell Lane and a memorial walk with trombone accompaniment and floral tribute made by Stirchley Residents. hazelwelllane

On Sunday 25 June 2017 we want to revisit Hazelwell Lane together in its current situation and record why it’s important now.  Join us.


Hazelwell Lane

We are preparing for our ‘As The Crow Flies’ walk this Sunday 25 June  Asthecrowfliesweb

As the Crow Flies is a walk that explores movement and it’s interruption by development in Stirchley. Hazelwell Lane, a main thoroughfare and significant street in Stirchley’s history was closed by Tesco during its clearing of compulsory purchased land for the development of their supermarket. Tesco have now withdrawn from Stirchley after 18 years of ongoing planning applications but the public road remains closed. The walk will approach the barrier from each side, beginning at The Hazelwell Pub to the East and Bournville for Stirchley Station to the West (Maryvale Road entrance). We will meet at the barrier and mark the occasion. We are interested in how people move around and through Stirchley and how this knowledge can be used to inform the planning of the site in the future with its new owners. We look forward to seeing you then at either of the start points!


Hazelwell Allotments


We had an inspirational visit to the multi layered Hazelwell Allotments in Stirchley this weekend. It was a pleasure to meet the allotment holders we encountered, all of whom were generous, whether sharing their knowledge, tips or produce. We will now pull our observations and ideas together to shape a project with the allotment holders.



Stirchley Birds Walk

We are very pleased to announce we will be delivering a walk ‘As the Crow Flies’ as part of Janes walks The organisation furthering the ideas of Jane Jacobs through community led walks across the globe.  This will be on Sunday 25 June from 2 – 3pm. The walk is unusual as it has two start points – 1 at The Hazelwell Pub and 2 at Bournville for Stirchley Train Station. The walk only has one final point though – on Hazelwell Lane.

We are delivering the walk because we are interested in how people move through Stirchley historically and presently and how this may inform the design of the public realm of the future.

Come along!