Flats plan for disused library in Walsall

Plans to transform an old Walsall library which has been closed for half a decade into new homes look set to fail.

An artist impression of a planned apartment block on the old Walsall Wood Library site, next to St John's Church. PIC: RH Development (Midlands) Limited
An artist impression of a planned apartment block on the old Walsall Wood Library site, next to St John's Church. PIC: RH Development (Midlands) Limited

Walsall Council’s planning committee is being urged to reject RH Development (Midlands) Limited’s proposals to build six two-bedroom apartments on the old Walsall Wood Library in Coppice Road.

The company also has an existing application to build four semi-detached two-bedroom houses on the library’s car park, which will also be discussed at the meeting on June 20.

But officers said the company has lodged an appeal with the planning inspectorate over the lack of decision on the car park plan, which will be heard in due course.

Walsall Wood Library was one of nine community facilities that were axed in 2017 by the then administration in the wake of financial pressures.

Planning officers said they have previously worked with the developer to overcome concerns raised but no satisfactory way forward had been found.

In its application for the new apartments, RH Development Limited said: “The addition of six homes helps to support local services and the local public transport system to the benefit of the local economy.

“Access to jobs and key services such as shops, schools, hospitals, and surgeries are conveniently located from the proposed site reducing travel distances and dependence on the car.

“The development provides residential accommodation in a highly sustainable location and brings a under used site back into efficient use without overburdening the existing infrastructure and local facilities.

“We believe that the proposals add to the well-established local area where the demand for good quality residential accommodation is desperately required.”

But the proposal received objections from four neighbours who raised concerns with the size of the proposed apartment block, highway safety, parking, loss of privacy and impact on the neighbourhood.

Walsall Council’s highways officers said the proposed development would have an “unacceptable impact” on road safety as well as affecting the operation of the road.

Conservation officers also opposed the plans because of the negative impact the new building would have on the locally listed St John’s Church which is next to the old library site.

And the Environmental Protection Team also raised issues such as the noise from a busy road impacting future residents of the apartments.

A report to committee said: “Officers have worked with the applicant and their agents positively and creatively to provide an opportunity to address the concerns raised by the Council and by consultees and interested parties.

“A satisfactory way forward has not been negotiated and the amendments have been submitted have failed to overcome previous concerns.

“Taking into account the above factors it is considered that the application should be recommended for refusal.”

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