Black Country church will be transformed into nursery despite 'dangerous road' concerns

A Black Country church will be transformed into a nursery despite concerns over parking.

Claremont Street, Cradley Heath
Claremont Street, Cradley Heath

Macefields Mission Hall, located in Claremont Street, Cradley Heath, will be transformed into a nursery and cater for 50 children between two and four years old.

The operating hours of the proposed nursery would be Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm, with seven full-time staff members. The application originally requested a three-year planning permission, but this was voted down by councillors to two years.

Mr Faiz Rasool, speaking in the planning committee meeting, said his nursery company operated across the UK with “a very good track record”.

He said: “Our organisation has three nurseries in Birmingham currently rated good by Ofsted.

“We’ve got an excellent track record in facilities also have a number of similar projects UK wide in London, Slough, Rotherham, Blackburn, and all of these are Ofsted registered.

“The impact of parking will be nowhere near what you would have been in its previous usage. The nursery will operate during working hours, therefore noise isn’t going to be an issue. During the afternoon or early hours in the morning staff will keep noise levels at a minimum.  The majority of activities will take place in the nursery.”

Mr Rasool said the planning application sought to open the building until 6pm to allow nursery to finish at 4.30pm before an hour and a half of ‘teacher training’.

A parking survey in November conducted by the Highways department at Sandwell council showed between 7am to 10am and 3pm to 6pm within 150m of the building, there were 30 and 50 spaces available.

Simon Chadwick, head of highways at Sandwell Council, said: “In principle highways don’t object to the proposals as shown. However, due to the concerns of the objectors relating to traffic and parking we do support the implementation of a temporary permission to make sure there are no parking problems.”

But Labour councillor Julie Webb dismissed the survey and said it was a “very dangerous road”.

She said: “I was going to ask for this case to be deferred pending site visit with local councillors and officers to request for double yellow lines between Claremont Street, Lawrence Lane and Sidaway Street.

“Sidaway Street is being used for Old Hill shop and people dropping off the kids at the nearby Reddal Hill school.

“There’s been a number of accidents at the junction of Claremont Street and Lawrence Lane and that bend is very dangerous, so we need some we need some traffic regulation orders.”

But John Baker, head of planning at Sandwell said traffic management was “not a material consideration” for planning applications.

Labour councillor Vicki Smith, who spoke on behalf of objectors, said parking at Clarmont Street was a ‘real concern’ for her residents.

She said: “Yesterday I decided at 6pm to have a little drive down there myself. And I drove down Clermont Street from the top Reddal Hill Road which is main road that comes off the high street.

“The street is predominantly Victorian houses with no off-road parking, and what was interesting was that the side roads either side were also fully parked almost up to the junctions. The streets are narrow so there’s lots of, you know, ‘tyres on the pavement’ situation.

“Along the frontage of Macefields Mission Hall, cars were parked along that frontage as well, which would mean actually, if the frontage was widened as per the application, you’d actually be losing an on street parking space.

“I don’t know how giving it a temporary patient would alleviate their concerns,” she added.

Councillors questioned whether a two year temporary planning permission is needed. Mr Rasool said even one as short as six months would damage his business plan.

He said: “We’ve said three years for the planning application because we’ve got a very old building, which was used as a church, it’s going to require a fair amount of investment. If you reduce it to six months, and we’re spending so much money on it, we’re already following Ofsted requirements.

“We’ve got to make an investment in it, and it’s an old building.”

But Mr Rasool said a two year temporary planning permission “would be acceptable”.

The planning permission was approved.

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