Handsworth bedsit plan approved despite concerns

A plan to convert part of a shop into a bedsit has been approved despite concerns around lack of amenity space.

The existing site at Grove Lane. Photo: Google
The existing site at Grove Lane. Photo: Google

Councillors voted to approve the retrospective plan for a seven-bedroom house in multiple occupation (HMO) in Handsworth.

The site is on the corner of Grove Lane and Douglas Road – a shop which would partly remain as a retail unit.

The plans include the demolition of an outbuilding at the site and the creation of 40 square metres of amenity space which councillors warned was not enough for seven people.

Councillor Julie Johnson told a Birmingham City Council planning committee meeting: “The concern I have is the living space for the seven bedrooms on two floors, but I do appreciate there is the park opposite [Handsworth park] that is mentioned in the report.

“When you have cold winter months, that doesn’t become an option and it’s quite a condensed amount of space for seven people.

“I think the retail space would have been better used as a larger living space personally. But I do have a concern about the small living area for the seven people living in that property.”

Councillor Saima Suleman questioned whether the recommendations from West Midlands Police for CCTV and locks on doors had been enacted.

Councillor Gareth Moore said: “I think it’s quite clear that Handsworth does suffer from an over-concentration of HMOs and other types of accommodation.”

He said the report was “far too dismissive” of concerns from neighbours about potential other HMOs near to the site.

An officer speaking at the meeting said officers considered there was “adequate” space for individuals – including personal space and communal space.

They said there are no standards on how much outdoor amenity space is needed per resident – but officers feel the amount provided here is sufficient for all seven residents. They said the park is a “very large” park and can be used at all times of the year.

They said the recommendations from West Midlands Police falls outside the remit of planning but have been passed on to the applicant.

They added officers have “looked at a variety of data” and said the proportion of existing HMOs identified by the council in 100metres would be 3.2 per cent.

The item was approved by seven votes to three.

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