Express & Star

Government inspector to decide on Smethwick post office flats appeal

A decision to block plans to build flats above a Smethwick post office over parking fears will be examined by a government inspector.

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

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

The work could still go ahead despite the council’s lack of support, with the decision now in the hands of a government planning inspector after an appeal was launched by developer Renovate Concepts Ltd.

Sandwell’s planners said both planning 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.

Planners also rejected the first move, saying that all eight flats would not meet national space standards.

The post office would remain in place under both applications.

While the space issue was later addressed in the six-flat plan, the concerns over the lack of parking spaces remained.

Sandwell Council’s highways department criticised both applications, saying each flat required at least one-off street parking space as well as space for visitors.

“Surrounding residential roads contain terraced properties with no off-street parking provision, on-street parking is already at maximum capacity,” the council said.

The authority said it had received many complaints about “inconsiderate” parking in Cape Hill, and crowded roads and junctions had blocked fire engines and refuse workers.

Following the first refusal in September 2022, a new application was put forward months later asking for permission to add the storey included in the previous plan but add another three-storey extension to house a total of six flats.

But this revised plan was also rejected by Sandwell Council which said that while the rooms now met size standards, the issues with the lack of parking spaces remained.

“The applicant has argued that as the site is within a town centre location and car parking provision is not required due to sustainable transport links, cycle parking being provided and residents not likely not to own a vehicle," the council said.

“This is noted; however, the site is on the edge of the town centre and accessed from a residential street. This location does not have any pay and display public car parks nearby and Rosebery Road suffers from high levels of on-street car parking due to the terraced houses.”