Express & Star

Flats plan in place of struggling Walsall garage set to be rejected

A bid to tear down a struggling Walsall garage and replace it with a block of new apartments looks set to fail.

Morris Car and Commercials in Rollingmill Street in Walsall. Photo: Google Street View

Morris Commercials has put forward a proposal to demolish Morris Car and Commercials in Rollingmill Street to make way for 16 one- and two-bedroom apartments.

But members of Walsall Council’s planning committee are being recommended to reject the plan for a number of reasons, including concerns about the loss of vital employment land and noise.

The proposal went before members back in March but was deferred against officer recommendation to enable the applicants to address concerns raised.

Pleck councillor Ram Mehmi ‘called in’ the proposal on the grounds the new development offer an improvement on the character of the area.

Planning agent Orrdee Services said the business has struggled in recent years which was attributed to the clean air campaign resulting in more people opting for new cars with long term warranties as well as the pandemic.

They said: “A decision has therefore been taken to wind up the car repairs business and use the site for a more useful community need rather than just shutting the business down.

“The proposal fully supports Walsall land use planning policies and brings to life and to use a piece of land that could otherwise become derelict.”

But officers said none of the proposed reasons for refusal had been ‘satisfactorily addressed’ with relevant consultees still raising objections.

Among those who opposed the development including neighbouring businesses, Councillor Sabina Ditta and Walsall South MP Valerie Vaz.

She said: “I support the planning officer’s recommendation to refuse permission and the planning grounds and the harm, of the loss of employment land and also subsequent likely constraint on neighbouring industrial use would outweigh the benefit from any residential development.

“I have visited the site and also spoken with owners from nearby businesses.

"This includes a long-established vehicle recovery business that carries out vital work on the national and local road network in the West Midlands 24 hours a day 365 days a year, whose partners include RAC, also based in my constituency of Walsall South.

“Much employment and huge investment in premises, plant and machinery would be jeopardised by the inappropriate introduction of residential development in this vital industrial zone.”