Cross-council development in Sandwell and Birmingham raises over 160 objections

Up to 17 ‘assisted living units’ will be built in Bearwood if Sandwell Council passes over its decision-making powers to Birmingham City Council, a planning document has revealed - despite 160 objections and two Sandwell councillors and an MP raising concerns.

A artist's impression of what the assisted living development that straddles both Sandwell and Birmingham could look like. Photo: Sandwell Council.
A artist's impression of what the assisted living development that straddles both Sandwell and Birmingham could look like. Photo: Sandwell Council.

Derelict garages to the rear of Anderson Road would be bulldozed and replaced by a two-storey building with assisted living, self-contained apartments and bungalows, facilitated by supported living company Eden Futures.

All of the units will be 28 square metres in size and will feature a kitchen, living space and separate bedroom, with either an en-suite or separate bathroom. The applicant is Edgbaston SSL Ltd, a property developer based in London.

A triangular part of the site – around seven per cent of the area – falls within Sandwell Council’s area. The rest of the land, located at Barnsley Road, falls within Birmingham City Council's North Edgbaston ward.

Vacant land at Barnsley Road and Anderson Road that could see an assisted living development. Photo: Google

Birmingham City Council already approved the respective planning application in April, subject to conditions. If Sandwell Council’s decision-making powers are given to Birmingham, the application would ratify Birmingham’s approval for the entire site.

No public consultation has been carried out by Sandwell Council, pending the planning committee’s decision to delegate authority to Birmingham City Council.

But Birmingham City Council faced criticism over the planned residential homes. In January this year, the council voted to defer the application after 36 letters of objection were received from residents' associations and neighbours in the area.

They also voted to defer in light of an error spotted which claimed the proposed units did not comply with national space standards. This was rectified at an April planning meeting.

Objections included a ‘lack of sufficient consultation with local residents and neighbours’; ‘inaccuracies within the information submitted’; ‘disproportionate number of HMO’s and exempt accommodation within the area already’; and the site development itself ‘not on brownfield’.

A further six objections were received by Birmingham City Council from local politicians, including four councillors and two MPs.

Birmingham councillors Carl Rice and Sharon Thompson, and Sandwell councillors Ahmad Bostan and Nicky Hinchliff objected to the development, citing its impact upon street car parking and said there were “no demands” for such accommodation within the area.

Preet Gill, MP for Edgbaston, objected on the grounds of the ‘inaccuracy’ of information submitted, and the high concentration of HMO’s in the area. John Spellar, MP for Warley, echoed her remarks.

The application was then re-examined in April, where a further 19 letters of objection and a further 105-name petition against the development were received by Birmingham City Council.

A further letter of objection was received by Preet Gill, who said “insufficient time” had been allowed for residents to respond to the application, and “no consultation” was carried out with residents of elected members from Sandwell Council, despite the site crossing boundaries.

A letter of support was received by the interim lead commissioner for learning disabilities and autism, at the NHS Birmingham and Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group, but said there were “no guarantees” it would set up a contract with the applicant, Eden Futures, which currently manages upwards of 600 service users and has more than 1,000 staff across a number of properties.

At Wednesday's Sandwell Council planning committee meeting, members will debate whether to delegate their decision-making powers to Birmingham City Council to approve the application.

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