Express & Star

Move to turn former fancy dress shop into flats is approved - 18 months after work was carried out

A move to turn a former fancy dress shop into flats has been given the green light by a borough council – 18 months after the work had already been carried out.


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Sandwell Council has approved a retrospective planning application asking for ‘permission’ to convert the former Fantasia party and fancy dress shop in Gorsty Hill Road, Rowley Regis, into two flats despite carrying out the work in 2022.

The council’s planners refused an application to convert the former shop into three flats in 2022 – saying the proposed flats and shared living spaces were too small – and a bid to get the decision overturned by a government planning inspector was also turned down months later.

Another attempt by Mr A Takhar to get permission for three flats was rejected again at the end of last year before another application for two flats was put forward and approved.

A statement included with the application said: “The shop had ceased trading for around three years before the current owner converted the premises to residential use which this application seeks to regularise.”

The council had reasoned that converting the former shop without providing any parking spaces would add to existing on-street problems.

Rejecting the second application in November last year, the council said: “Flat three is below the internal space standard for two-storey accommodation... and the kitchen has no natural light. Both factors make for a sub-standard living environment.

“The development has no off-street parking and has the potential to increase competition for on-street spaces which would likely result in inconvenience for road users on Gorsty Hill Road.”

Despite only reducing the number of flats by one, the council has now dismissed its earlier concerns about parking – based on a government inspector commenting on a different application that parking problems in Gorsty Hill Road would not be an issue.

The rejection of applications for both 49 and 50 Gorsty Hill Road by Sandwell Council have consistently cited parking problems, but the council has now said that an extra two or three cars would “not be an unacceptable increase".

The council’s planners said the move to convert the neighbouring building into an eight-bed HMO would undoubtedly cause parking problems on the busy road but when the rejection was appealed, a government inspector sided with the council but said the parking issues would not be a “significant issue".

Sandwell Council rejected two plans for a nine-bed and eight-bed HMO in recent years – either side of a decision by a government planning inspector to side with the council and throwing out an appeal.

The council’s planners said the lack of natural light in the shared kitchen and living room at 50 Gorsty Hill – which could not even be directly accessed by two of the flats – would result in a “poor living environment” for future tenants.

The planned extension to create an eight-bed HMO was then scrapped and the application to change the use of the building from a six-bed house to an HMO was backed by Sandwell Council.