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Changes to 800-home plans approved

By Mark Cardwell | Birmingham | Property | Published: | Last Updated:

Changes to a fiercely-contested plan for 800 homes on a former golf course were approved despite anger over a lack of public meetings.

The former North Worcestershire Golf Club on Hanging Lane in Northfield.

Birmingham City Council’s planning committee initially turned down outline plans from Bloor Homes for houses on the site of the North Worcestershire Golf Club in Northfield.

But the decision was overturned following a public inquiry last year, and the developer has since applied for a change to one of the approved access points to the site from Frankley Beeches Road.

Under new plans, the access point would move 15m to the west requiring a bus stop to be moved.

There would also be a pedestrian refuge island put in place as well as "tactile paving to improve the crossing of Frankley Beeches Road".

The planning committee heard on July 30 there were objections from residents due to there being no public meetings into the changes since the application was submitted.

A statement from Councillor Olly Armstrong who represents Northfield, said he shared residents’ concerns about the community consultation and changes to the road structure.

He said there was a "lack of engagement with the community" from Bloor Homes.

A statement from Gerald Kennedy, a resident who opposes the plan, said the alterations have "significant implications for local residents and road safety".

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He said: "This road is an exit point for ambulances from the Hollymoor Ambulance Hub.

"The issue of whether the ambulance hub has planning permission for the number of ambulances stationed there is, we understand, currently unresolved by planning enforcement."

He advised the committee not to decide on the housing development application until the ambulance matter is resolved.

He also said there had been "no public discussion" of the amendments and that the applicant was attempting to "avoid scrutiny" by submitting plans during lockdown.

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Councillors heard Bloor had originally filed the alteration plans in December but had been asked to update an environmental impact assessment, which was submitted in May.

A letter in support of the development made on behalf of Bloor said the new amendments "simply seeks minor adjustments to one of the approved access points".

It added "the revised access arrangement will improve the operation" of the junction and "provide greater benefits to the local highway network".

It said: "By re-siting the junction 15 metres to the west of the currently approved location and introducing a new right turn lane junction on Frankley Beeches Road with an associated pedestrian refuge.

"The proposal will deliver the significant benefit of removing right-turners into the site from the eastbound through-lane of Frankley Beeches Road.”

The statement added the through-lane on the road would be retained "including for emergency vehicles".

The new alteration was described as a "minor change" by a planning officer present at the meeting, who said the ambulance hub should be treated as a separate matter.

The officer said the city council consulted West Midlands Ambulance Service about the changes to the site access but are yet to receive a response.

There were no objections from the city council’s transportation team.

The officer said the consultation was done in accordance with requirements and that the council couldn’t force the applicants to hold public meetings.

Committee member Councillor Gareth Moore said: "It does seem a relatively minor change to the outline consent which was granted on appeal.

"I voted to refuse the application when it came before us, but we are where we are – unfortunately the appeal has been granted."

He said the change seemed to be an improvement and added: "Overall, this seems to be a positive step forward in the right direction and I am not sure why there is a need for any further consultation on that."

But he said proper consultation should take place when further plans were put forward for the housing development.

Councillor Lou Robson said: "What we are hearing here is residents’ frustration over the past lack of consultation which on a site this important is really crucial.

"I would like to see very much a commitment from the developers that there will be […] proper consultation. It’s difficult now we are in lockdown, but I would like to see every effort made.

"I think that is something we should put them on notice that this committee will be looking to see in future applications coming before us."

The amendments to the plans were approved by all committee members – though three sat out of the vote due to previously expressing a view about the project.

The committee retained the conditions previously imposed including a requirement for 35 per cent on-site affordable housing.

There is also a requirement for a £4.5 million contribution towards an on-site primary school as well as on-site open space and community hub.

Mark Cardwell

By Mark Cardwell
Reporter - @mlrcardwell

Local Democracy Reporter covering Birmingham.

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