Concerns have been raised about the loss of employment space in Burntwood if the unit at Mount Road is pulled down.
Burntwood Town Council and Lichfield District Council’s economic development officer both objected to the application, which sought outline permission for seven two-bedroom homes on the site.
A report to Lichfield District Council’s planning committee said: “Whilst Burntwood Town Council recognise the benefit of two bedroom homes in meeting the requirements for affordable homes in the district, (they) wish to raise an objection on the basis that this development would result in the loss of a business property in an industrial area of the town.
“The loss would reduce the availability of property that can ensure employment and business opportunities in the town. This would subsequently impact negatively on the local economy.
“An objection has also been received from the council’s economic development officer on the grounds that the development shall create a loss of 913 square metres of internal commercial floorspace on the site which would be suitable for any growing, established business who is seeking commercial floorspace within Burntwood.
“Whilst the relocation of the business won’t create any job losses, it shall reduce the amount of commercial floorspace available within Burntwood, creating less opportunities for job creation. Burntwood has currently seen the existing loss of employment land to residential housing in close proximity to Burntwood Business Park, limiting the amount of space available for businesses with this development increasing this detriment on the local economy, limiting viable spaces for employment and business growth.
“The applicant has confirmed that the current building has been occupied by their company manufacturing stairs for over 25 years. The current building is in a poor state of repair and it would not be financially viable for the company to repair or replace the existing building.
“Video evidence of significant flooding of the building was also provided. The applicant has advised that the company would look to relocate to a more modern premises within Burntwood, with the sale of the land supporting the move.
“It is not considered that the existing building in its current form, due to its poor state and investment needed, would be suitable for re-use by another business. Whilst potentially the site could be redeveloped to provide a replacement building for a commercial use, it is noted that in policy terms new employment development is directed to a different location within Burntwood.
“On balance, given the background policy perspective, the availability of better quality employment units within Burntwood and taking into consideration the visual improvements that the redevelopment of the site could deliver officers consider that the loss of employment land in this location would be acceptable.”
The application was recommended for approval by council planning officers ahead of Monday’s committee meeting (September 6).
Five members voted for approval and five against, leading committee chairman Thomas Marshall to use his casting vote in favour of the plans.
But Councillor Rob Birch said: “The proposals are contrary to core policy in the Local Plan which fit in with sustainable development, due to a loss of potential infrastructure in terms of employment opportunities on the land.”
Councillor Diane Evans said: “With so many residential properties being built in Burntwood I feel it is important to retain this site for employment. It is important we get the infrastructure in Burntwood we have been promised for years.
“To get rid of an employment site for properties is a retrograde step in my submission.”