It all started with a big hole in the ground, left there by a brick maker and subsequently taken over by tatters, scavengers and fly tippers. Then came the foundry sand dumpers, hundreds of tonnes of it. Throw in multiple planning applications and waste disposal licences under the guise of “different” companies with the same individuals running them, time extensions when those planning permissions were not met and protracted arguments between The Environment agency and their solicitors over gas barriers and Christmas trees! But visibly the noise, the stress, the damage to households from black foundry sand and the over tipping to leave a massive pile of black slag sitting astride a buried pit of toxic and hazardous gassing venom. JUST WHAT HAPPENED AT TEMPLE WAY TO CAUSE THIS “MISERY?”
It all started with big plans. The newly formed Black Country Development Corporation were eager to create a flagship house building project, but somewhere along the way of the Temple it all went pear shaped and became a third white elephant.
The letter below is from where this blog post was taken and it is a letter written by a resident of Temple Way in 1990 on behalf of The Temple Way Action Group, when the BCDC had approved the first in a long line of applications surrounding this site, a letter that was to prove so prophetically accurate that I cannot better it in explanation as to why it remains so relevant today which is why I am printing it in full below.
“In granting this application BCDC are going to subject the residents of the adjoining housing estate to a high level of distress for the next several years.”
- The letter confirms that a so called “public exhibition” took place involving “glossy BCDC propaganda”.
- BCDC and Mintworth appeared to have differing opinions on how the scheme would pan out
- Sandwell council had apparently rejected the scheme the month earlier, yet BCDC had approved it “behind closed doors”
- The letter confirms what existing Sandwell council officers knew to be true about the site’s disastrous past management under “Duport Properties Ltd.”
“What it will mean to residents in real terms
On site plant operating 11 hours per day six days per week for two years, and that will just be the first part of this programme
At least 100 heavy vehicles per day , transporting this untreated waste from site , greatly increasing the traffic problem in an already congested area.
Excavation of this waste within 25 yards of private dwellings
A potential health hazard that cannot be fully estimated to any degree of satisfaction. Not just the direct effects of pollutants released into the atmosphere but also by the high levels of stress that can be induced by the effects of the continual noise emissions from the site. “
- The value of properties will be affected , especially those that face directly onto the site, that is if they will still be saleable commodity once work commences.
- All the wildlife that this site plays host to will be eradicated. The Urban wildlife group have declared that this tract of land an important “stepping stone” for the sheepwash development. There is an abundance of birdlife here, both resident and migratory , with species uncommon to the area.”
- “It seems that Oldbury and the surrounding areas are being “developed” to saturation level, with every piece of available land up for grabs and being exploited to its maximum profitability. “
The waste in fact was not moved off site and below is a basic outline of what happened next -starting with the application referred to in the letter above, which was supposedly going to take just a couple of years to achieve. More detail in several posts and pages about this to follow- because it becomes very convoluted! 🙄
BCS 905 granted March 1990 for land reclamation and drainage works, including off site relocation of fills and importation of substitute materials. (condition 2 reads “The operations shall not be discontinued on or before 28/2/92.”
BCS 1804 granted April 1992, variation of condition 2 of BCS 905 extending operations -condition 2 now expires 28th February 1995
BCS 1813 granted July 1992, reclamation of sewage works and Duport’s Tip and importation of fill
DECEMBER 1992 WASTE DISPOSAL LICENCE Permit SL947 ISSUED TO MINTWORTH QUAYS LIMITED TO OPERATE A LANDFILL SITE AT RATTLECHAIN TIP.
BCS 2206 granted May 1993, development of land without compliance with conditions 3,9,18 and 19 of BCS 1813.
BCS 2244 Not determined Storage of soils and topsoils
BCS 2407 granted September 1993, variation of conditions 9 and 18 of BCS 1813. All work to be implemented within 19 months and a leachate disposal system installed within 19 months, i.e completed by the end of April 1995
BCS 2585 granted with conditions 28/9/94
Section 73 application to vary conditions 9 and 18 of BCS1813 as amended by BCS2407
BCS 2880 granted with conditions 25/3/96
Residential development on the land following infill by sand and granular material together with ancillary engineering works and gas vent barrier on western boundary of the land
BCS 3272 Granted with conditions 15/1/96
Section 73 application in respect of condition 3 of BCS 1813
BCS 3242 granted with conditions 1/9/97
Section 73 application to vary conditions 1 and 20 of BCS 1813 (AS AMMENDED) in respect of the technical specification of the cap to and profile of the finished tip.
BCS 3593 Granted with conditions 1/9/97
Section 73 application in respect of amended condition 3 of BCS 1813 to extend time. Amended condition 3 states “The operations authorised by this permission BCS1813 shall be discontinued on or before 3rd September 1996.”
This application sort to vary condition 3 to extend time period for further 12 months to 3rd September 1997.
BCS 3979 Granted with conditions 22/10/97
Section 73 application to vary condition 3 of BCS1813
DC/98/34753 REFUSED 9/2/99 Appeal withdrawn 22/12/99
Section 73 application to vary condition 3 of BCS1813 to extend the completion date for landfill operations from 30/9/98 to 30/4/99.
DC/99/35487 Granted with conditions 6/8/99
Section 73 application to vary condition 13 of planning permission BCS 1813 to extend the period of time for implementation of landscaping from 31/5/99 to 30/11/99.
DC/38330 Granted with conditions 31/12/01
Section 73 application. Variation of condition 14 of planning permission BCS 2880 to extend the time for completion of the landfill operation until 25th July 2003.
DC/02/39569 Granted with conditions 3/10/02
Section 73 application. Variation of condition 4 of planning permission BCS 2880 to extend time for the submission of reserved matters applications until 25th July 2003.
DC/02/39689 Granted with conditions 3/10/02
Section 73 application . Variation of condition 20 of planning permission BCS2880
DC/02/38855 Granted with conditions 28/3/02
Section 73 application- variation of condition 5 of planning permission BCS2880 to extend the time for submission of reserved matters until 25th July 2002.
Some of this protracted landscaping operation would become planning application DC/02/39115– The Barratt Homes development to extend MacDonald close and create streets like Addington Way and Shelbourne Close.
The key points to bring out of this complex and ludicrous 12-13 year operation , which as previously stated was originally supposed to last less than half of this are
- it was overseen by the same entity, sometimes operating under various guises but usually “Mintworth”. John Stewart Hurst and his son John Leigh Jarrod Hurst, often referred to as John Hurst Snr and John Hurst Jnr respectively were at the helm of operations throughout.
- Section 73 applications are a legal tool of The Town and Country Planning Act 1990. This allows applications to be made for permission to develop without complying with a condition(s) previously imposed on a planning permission. The local planning authority can grant such permission unconditionally or subject to different conditions, or they can refuse the application if they decide that the original condition(s) should continue.
- Virtually all of the Hurst’s section 73 applications were approved, or recommended for approval, as were their planning applications by Sandwell council and by one planning officer- namely John Baylay.
- Much of the applications were dealt with through the solicitors of this company – principally Halliwell Landau via Roger Lancaster.
- Mintworth et al appeared to have considerable difficulty finishing anything to agreed time limits- hence the number of applications asking for more time to “extend” operations- which also appeared to coincide with applications to tip more foundry sand- which of course they were being paid to tip on the site.
Below is a letter from a former director of a company who appear out of nowhere to have shown an interest in the continued dumping of foundry sand on the former brickworks site. The concern of this company director for business does not appear to care about the end point of where its waste ends up, and in the case of the foundry sand, the “misery” it caused local residents in the process.
I could not really give a flying f##k about Darcast Limited or its survival, but the fears were clearly not realised from this scaremongering letter with the company still in business today as another entity. Let’s hope they have however found a better way of disposing of their waste. Let’s also be clear in that the cheapness of the disposal was profit for the company who delivered and tipped the waste, and in time over tipped the waste and left it there, also blocking two rights of Way which remain “substantially blocked” according to Sandwell Council.
One can clearly see the residents frustration about all of this and the letters of objection every time The Hurst’s applied for yet another planning extension to their operations. Houses were allegedly blackened, and people feared for their health whilst also reporting noise and little consideration for their wellbeing. These are matters of record.
The letters, (just some of those in objection to the never ending saga of applications that I have read in relation to this site) below speak for themselves, written by people living on this estate that had to live with the issues of this company tipping and shifting waste on a daily basis over many years with little apparent direction as to where it was all going. Collectively it is not at all unfair to state that they offer a very real warning from history.
“Perhaps when we are dead and buried, (long after the likes of you and John Hurst), you may feel a little sorry for what you allow to go on on that site called “rattlechain tip” …
…..do you think money for him is more important than the health of people on Gladstone Drive?”
“we were told we would have 100 lorries a day for two years to clear the land. 9 years on it still is not finished….
…we are very very frustrated and think we have been treated really bad by the council and the landowner. We have also lost around £5000 off the value of our house which we can not sell because of the mound of land.”
“I have made numerous calls to various departments , including environmental health….to express my concern about the height of the dirt tip, and indeed the pollution it is now causing to myself and my neighbours. I can only assimilate our present environment to living down a mine…..
I cannot express strongly enough my opposition to this particular planning request to extend the licence for Rattlechain. I am sick to the high teeth of the dirt and grime that is consistently coming across rattlechain, dirtying our property and doing who knows what to our health.”
“this particular company seem to request “extensions” on a regular basis, and nothing seems ever closer to finishing.”
“Our properties are being devalued due to the black dust coming from this site…..
….why should we suffer daily from the constant havoc this site is causing to the residents of this once peaceful estate? “
And then there are the excuses for the never ending “reclamation” that actually was never fully realised across the whole site- to the point of building houses upon it. But when the weather is blamed for not being able to comply with a planning application (and asking for yet more time)- you start to get the impression that someone must really be taking the piss.
For a pictorial illustration of what we are talking about- take a look at this stock image of one of the houses in Gladstone Drive and the proximity of the foundry sand pile in the face of it.
Or maybe this one of tippers looking down from above. You can imagine the plumes of dust cascading across below.
This Express and Star article “Tipping misery goes on despite promises” records the “misery” still further.
“Families who live near to a controversial Tividale tip have had their hopes of an end to their seven year nightmare dashed. Dust clouds have blown onto homes around the rattlechain tip off Temple Way since work began in 1992.”
The Environment Agency confirmed in the FOI request put to them that the waste management licence for this site was conveniently never surrendered – which would have involved completion of all the aspects of the licence.
“The operator Mintworth Quays Ltd; were dissolved on 22 March 2007 whereupon the licence SL947 ceased to exist.”
Quite clearly there is a major sense of Deja Vu about all of this with an uncanny situation now unfolding in exactly in the manner that it did in 1990. A new Black Country Development Corporation in the form of “The Black Country Local Enterprise partnership”. Secret meetings taking place at the Temple between organisations plotting housebuilding and residents in the dark, glossy propaganda in the form of The Dudley port Supplementary planning document…..
– that is except to say that we now live in the internet age, and people are no longer in the dark and can carry out research in a much better way for themselves.
There are now even more residents living in the vicinity of the proposed ludicrous “garden city” housing area. I just wonder what “misery” stories they will be telling and what letters they will be writing in the years to come if this scheme gets the green light?
Some of the letter writers at Temple Way Estate appear to have contacted elected members, but unfortunately letters to many local politicians in this part of the world fall on deaf ears because they are business whores who cannot do enough favours for their business clientele. The only time they solicit residential dwellers are shortly before elections- and then they are gone again like toms into the night.
Many local elected are also private landlords, and so there can never be enough new houses built for them to line their seedy pockets still further. They can however be voted out.
To comment and object against these proposals and to stop the “misery” coming back please contact
#STOP THE GARDEN CITY