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Prescott edges closer to Birmingham college call in

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Nicholas Hare Architects' £14 million scheme for a new sixth-form college in the Balsall Heath area of Birmingham is facing the threat of a public inquiry.

The Government Office for the West Midlands has issued Birmingham City Council with an Article 14 holding directive while deputy prime minister John Prescott decides whether to call it in.

Birmingham's decision to give the project the go-ahead last week was met by a barrage of complaints from local campaigners, who vowed to continue to fight the project (AJ 24.10.02).

In a letter to planning officer David Wells, the government has instructed that all papers, planning documents and submissions be handed over for consideration.

Local campaigning group the Balsall Heath Forum is opposed to the scheme because of its siting on Metropolitan Open Land, in contradiction to the local Unitary Development Plan. It claims there are other more appropriate sites that would not require construction on parkland.

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