Final decision on controversial housing scheme to be decided by Government

A controversial housing scheme which residents fear will be a “death sentence” for their cul-de-sac will be decided by Government inspectors.

An artist's impression of proposed new homes on land behind Cricket Close. Picture: BM3 Architecture
An artist's impression of proposed new homes on land behind Cricket Close. Picture: BM3 Architecture

Walsall Housing Group’s (WHG) proposal to create 29 family homes on land off Cricket Close in Walsall was backed by planning and highways officers but caused great concern amongst local people and councillors.

The housing provider is now taking the matter to the planning inspectorate after the authority’s planning committee failed to reach a decision in time.

Residents argued access via Cricket Close was unsafe and would add to congestion problems on the adjacent A34 Birmingham Road.

The committee deferred the application twice with a request for officers and the developers to look into the possibility of an alternative access to the site.

But WHG lodged its appeal to the planning inspectorate on the grounds of non-determination and the matter will be decided in due course.

At a planning meeting last week, members decided they would have ‘refused’ the application had it not gone to appeal due to the negative impact on residents, increase in traffic and congestion the future Sprint Bus development would bring.

Resident Jane Wilding said: “I’ve spoken several times before on this so it is rather a case of deja vu. As it stands, nothing has changed. The residents are very disappointed.

“The issues have not gone away – the parked cars, narrow road, the exit onto the A34, the traffic, there could be up to 50 extra cars at peak times.

“This all adds up to one thing, an accident waiting to happen. Many residents have lived here a long time. We feel we’ve been reasonable with the developers right from the start.

“But without exception we all strongly object to the access. Despite repeated requests, we feel our voices are being ignored and pleas fallen on deaf ears.

“We again ask you to consider an alternative access. Do not make this a death sentence for Cricket Close.”

Ward councillor Waheed Rasab said: “If this was approved, it would be a disaster for the residents of Cricket Close.

“As you know, the traffic has increased on Birmingham Road. It is going to be worse for the pedestrians and traffic.”

Chairman Mike Bird, who lives nearby, said he believed there was an issue with traffic in the area.

He said: “There is no doubt in my mind, the impact of increasing traffic coming in and out of Birmingham Road could present a further highway danger. The imposition of the Sprint Bus will increase traffic being stationary.”

Rebecca Bennett Casserly, Corporate Director of Development, said: “This application has been made on behalf of our subsidiary Anthem Homes, which develops homes for outright sale. We are seeking to build 29 much needed family homes; seven for shared ownership and 22 for outright sale.

“We will reinvest the profit created by this development, once sold, to deliver affordable homes for those in need.

“It is regrettable that Walsall Council’s Planning Committee did not determine the application in the statutory time limit, causing us to appeal the non-determination, and then to indicate it would have refused the application.

“This is especially disappointing as the site has previously been earmarked by the council in its Local Plan for residential development and the council’s own planning officers have recommended the scheme for approval.

“We take very seriously the safety concerns of residents in Cricket Close and have worked incredibly hard to engage with the council to work through and resolve these matters.

“Indeed, the council’s highways officers have no objections to the development and the proposals for access.

“We remain committed to the proposal and to working in partnership with the council and the residents to create a safe and sustainable development, which is now subject to the decision of the Planning Inspectorate.”

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