Express & Star

Post Office flats planning appeal for town with parking woes is thrown out

Moves to build flats above a post office have been thrown out by a planning inspector over fears it would add to parking chaos in a Black Country town.

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Sandwell Council twice refused planning applications to build eight flats above Cape Hill Post Office in Smethwick over the failure to include enough new parking spaces in a cramped area already plagued by parking and congestion issues.

The council said surrounding roads were already at “maximum capacity” and had received many complaints about “inconsiderate” parking in Cape Hill – with crowded roads and junctions blocking fire engines and refuse workers.

Cape Hill Post Office in Cape Hill, Smethwick. Pic: Google

Developer Renovate Concepts which said the proposed flats were in a “sustainable” location with good public transport links lodged an appeal against the latest decision – but this was unsuccessful and the government planning inspector sided with the council.

Sandwell’s planners said both applications only promised one off-street parking space – far below what would be required for the initial proposal of eight flats and then the six-flat plan that followed.

As many as four parking spaces were hastily added in a bid to push the plans through – but both the council and the government planning inspector said they were still not enough.

The planning inspector said the four spaces could not be used independently of each other and with the post office remaining open, would not be saved for residents.

“The impracticalities would compromise the usability of the spaces which in turn could lead to instances of inconsiderate or obstructive parking, to the detriment of highway and pedestrian safety,” the inspector said.

“Given the parking shortfall together with the limitations and impracticality of the proposed off-street parking, I consider it highly likely that the demand for on-street parking within proximity of the appeal site would be increased.”

Sandwell Council rejected the initial move by Renovate Concepts saying that all eight flats included would not meet national space standards. While the space issue was later addressed in the six-flat application the concerns over the lack of parking spaces remained.

Its highways department criticised both applications saying that each flat required at least one off-street parking space as well as space for visitors.

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