Property developers face fight from boaters and rockers over canal pub site

July 2017 - Developers planning to put no fewer than 80 flats on a canalside site in central Birmingham may find themselves up against a coalition of boaters and music fans, Peter Underwood reports.

Whitehorse Estates Ltd and Baskerville Wharf, a Private Limited Partnership, want to knock down the Flapper Pub, alongside Cambrian Wharf and replace it with a block of flats. They own the lease on the land from Birmingham City Council and are currently attempting to persuade local residents to back their plans by staging an exhibition of their planning proposal.

The Flapper, originally the Longboat, is famous for its live music and is just one of a series of Birmingham venues recently under threat. The development plans may also become a threat to the boats which moor in Cambrian Wharf.

There are four official residential moorings in the wharf and it is home to twice as many winter moorers in winter months as well as visiting boats taking advantage of the 14-day spots.

Conflict between boaters and the owners and occupiers of new developments is nothing new in Birmingham, with complaints from adjacent apartments being responsible for the loss of the Fiddle and Bone music pub on the main line for 10 years.

It is easy to imagine complaints about engine running (Cambrian has no electricity) and smoke from boat stoves as the moorings will be directly underneath the proposed flat block. There must also be a risk of boaters having to vacate part of the wharf once construction is under way.

The Flapper's current landlords – presumably on a sub lease from the property company - know as little about the plans as anyone else and say on their Facebook page: “This is just a quick statement from the management regarding the possible redevelopment of The Flapper.

“We understand word is spreading fast, but we don’t actually know all the details yet. We will do in the next couple of weeks and we will release a full and official statement. Property developers own the venue, it has not been sold out by us.

“Until then; it’s business, beer, gigs and rock n roll as usual!!!

“We understand you all have a lot of questions and worries; please don’t take the lack of knowledge from management or staff as The Flapper is 100% being redeveloped. We are all understandably upset by the news. We love The Flapper very much and we know you all love her as well.”

Whitehorse Estate Ltd and Baskerville Wharf , the developers, have invited locals to a public exhibition of their plans tomorrow, which they claim 'will include information on the proposals and all attendees will have the opportunity to provide comments and feedback.'

Meanwhile Roy Stokes, a liveaboard boater and long-time fan of The Flapper has been rallying support on Facebook to resist the plans.

He says: “This will have a major impact on the visitor moorings in Cambrian Wharf. In other parts of the city where this has happened, the new residents have then complained about the noise made by boat engines and smoke from chimneys.

“I hope that by raising this we can help to challenge this development and save an iconic Birmingham pub from the bulldozers.”

The Baskerville company, based in Stratford upon Avon, owns a 99 year lease from the city council expiring around 2068. It is not yet clear whether it has outline planning, outline planning for the block of flats but there were earlier rumours of redevelopment when they first acquired the land.

Photos: (1st) Cambrian Wharf - four of the moorings are residential, (2nd) The Flapper, on the right, is within touching distance of moored boats - will construction work mean they have to move? (3rd) Cambrian Wharf is a favourite spot for winter mooring, (4th) The invite to the exhibition of plans for the Flaper.

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