Flats plan for leather workshop agreed

An old leather workshop in Walsall will be converted into a dozen new apartments after a proposal was given the green light.

The former Sabre Leather Co building in Sandwell Street, Walsall. Photo: Google.
The former Sabre Leather Co building in Sandwell Street, Walsall. Photo: Google.

Thirteen Estates will be able to create 12 flats at the former Sabre Leather Co building in Sandwell Street, which has sat empty for more than three years.

Proposals were first put forward back in 2021 and the issue went before planning committee last year, where it was agreed to delegate authority to officers subject to a Section 106 agreement being finalised.

Now all agreements have been reached and planning permission has been granted for the development.

In a report to the planning committee, residents had raised concerns the flats would create drug and anti-social behaviour issues if they were to be built.

But officers said there was no evidence to suggest occupiers of the new flats would create issues with drugs while any anti-social behaviour in the area needed to be reported to the authorities.

As part of the work, some structures will also be demolished to help create a courtyard area for future residents, who are expected to be ‘young professionals’.

The building is locally listed and dates back to the 19th century but has been empty since 2019 with the applicants saying there were structural problems.

Council planning officers said the redevelopment of the site would enhance the building which sits in a conservation area.

Officers said: “In weighing the material planning considerations, taking into account the local and national planning guidance and views of neighbouring occupiers, it is considered and on balance the proposed residential development is acceptable.

“Any economic and social benefits in this instance will not have any detrimental impact on the environment.

Thirteen Estates said: “Little is known of occupants prior to 1891. The property was occupied by the Macfarlane Family from said date manufacturing harnesses for circus ponies.

“The family lived in the two storey property fronting Sandwell street with the rear three-storey building used as a factory and workshop.

“After (owner) Robert Macfarlane’s passing in 1923 the building was sold to The Ideal Leather Case Company and later to Sabre Leather which continued the tradition of manufacturing harnesses until early 2019.

“The driving force behind the scheme is to conserve, enhance and re-use of the existing buildings, by part demolition of structures that have little heritage value and converting the building to provide one bed studio and one bedroom apartments for young professionals.

“The scale, design and layout of the proposed development ensures that it respects the Church Hill conservation area and reinforces the strong character of the street scene.”

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