The Planning Inspectorate has dismissed an appeal against the authority's decision to refuse plans to bring the Grade II-listed Kenrick Building, off Union Street, in West Bromwich, back into use as flats, office space and storage.
The gothic-style building, which is now known as Archibald Kenrick House, dates back to around the 1880s and has stood empty for more than two decades. It overlooks the A4182 Kenrick Way and is passed by hundreds of drivers every day.
The plans – to build six flats into the building, while the first and second floors would remain as office units and the ground floor for storage – were refused by Sandwell Council due to a lack of adequate parking and the site being located in an area allocated as "local employment land".
The applicant appealed the decision with the Planning Inspectorate but this was eventually dismissed this month.
Inspector Jonathan Hockley, who was appointed by the Secretary of State to assess the appeal, said that the proposal would be contrary to policy EMP3 of the Core Strategy, which seeks to protect local employment areas.
He said: "The residential element of the scheme would also be contrary to the framework, in that it would not support economic growth and productivity, taking into account both local business needs and wider opportunities, to allow each area to build on its strengths.
"In terms of highway safety the number of parking spaces available for the flats and offices would be substantially short of what would be expected for a scheme of this size, and would likely lead to overflow on surrounding roads.
"Archibald Kenrick House is clearly a landmark building for the town, and I agree that it is vital to secure an appropriate use for the building to ensure that it can be conserved in a manner appropriate to its significance, so it can be enjoyed for its contribution to the quality of life for existing and future generations.
"However, in this instance, based on the evidence submitted I am not convinced that material considerations exist sufficient to outweigh the conflict with the development plan that the proposal would present and I therefore conclude that residential use would not be suitable for the appeal site, having regard to the need for employment land.
"I note the appellants’ comments regarding their view on the intransigence of the council and do not doubt that the appellant would wish to see the building restored.
"However, based on the evidence submitted, and for the reasons given above, and having regard to all other matters raised, I dismiss the appeals."
The building hit the headlines late last year when a row erupted over a giant George Galloway banner, which was hung on the building during the election campaign.