This is a picture of Hazelwell Lane in Stirchley. I took this picture before I really knew what was going on with it. (Not sure I entirely know the whole story yet, either.) There's one house that still seems to be occupied. (A "Nail" as a friend of a friend referred to it.) The others are obviously done for, although you can still see lace curtains hanging in some of the windows if you walk up to them.
Apparently, Tesco - as I understand it sort of the British equivalent of Walmart (although maybe a little better than Walmart) - has been planning for years to put up a huge store here. Last Saturday after the handprint fun we stopped at a public exhibition put on by Tesco to show the neighborhood what they have planned. In the plans, Hazelwell Lane will turn into just a way into the parking lot. Where those houses stand there will be a small section of additional parking. It also looks like some other things which aren't yet boarded up are going to be demolished to make way for the Tesco. These exact plans aren't approved yet, but it sounds like they probably will be.
On our way out, a smiley Tesco employee handed us a comment card to fill in and drop in the mail. We, or at least I, honestly don't know what to think about the whole thing. I can't help that my gut reaction to a huge, boring chain store moving in is solidly negative. The store is ugly, it's something you can find anywhere so it's not interesting, it has an enormous parking lot which is also ugly and depressing, and it depresses me to think about streets that used to have real life on them being turned into dead parking-lot access routes. (Apparently I'm not the only one...just now I googled Hazelwell Lane and found memorials to its death!)
On the other hand, if there were already a Tesco it wouldn't have stopped me moving here, I don't think. With my only urban planning experience being a reading of Jane Jacobs more than a decade ago, I don't really know what the addition of a store like this would do to Stirchley. There are a lot of empty storefronts around. Would a Tesco kill what stores do exist here, or would it bring more shoppers to the area, thereby stimulating more shops to open? Walmart of course killed many small town shops in the US - I could see this happen right in front of my eyes growing up as they moved into our area. The dynamics of small towns and cities are pretty different, though. Maybe I'm just being a snob or behind the times or...I mean, it could be useful. The day we moved here we needed pillows and a blanket and wanted to just find them without leaving the neighborhood again after all that travel. We found only one pillow at Domestix, and a blanket but no pillows at the Co-op. So the neighborhood could probably use more shopping - I just don't know that Tesco is the answer I'd prefer.
I don't know.