The famous Birmingham recording studio where legends like Black Sabbath, ELO, Slade, Roy Wood and Robert Plant have jammed and cut discs, could be set for a move from its home of more than 30 years.
Rich Bitch Studios, based in a converted engineering factory in Selly Oak, has been a home for thousands of aspiring Brummie bands and musicians over many years as well as hosting some international greats including Earth, Wind and Fire, Ruby Turner and US rockers Skid Row.
But now Aston Spring Developments wants the site, off Bristol Road, to build a student apartment block of up ten storeys in height and has submitted a planning application.
Rich Bitch founder and owner Rob Bruce says that, should the application be approved, he will move to a new, smaller premises.
“The offer has come at the right time. We need to downsize. Our business does not justify such a large building,” he said.
He explained that increasing business rates, lack of access to small business support and the work involved in maintaining and running such a large building were all factors.
“We haven’t got a place in mind, but will be trying to stay in the area.”
The move is unlikely to be imminent as it will take at least six months, and possibly more than a year, before the planning permission is approved and then a further three months to relocate.
“We’ll be here for a while yet,” he said.
The planning application for a block of 347 student apartments, plus ground floor shops, is unlikely to be passed without objection. It is understood there is concern that the student bedsits will be tiny and that a smaller number of larger units should be considered instead.
Already the Selly Oak Community Partnership has raised objections – suggesting that the student market is now saturated and family housing would be more beneficial to the community.
Chairman Barry Toon said: “It’s a grain silo for students, not a useful contribution to either further education or Selly Oak.
”It’s a totally inappropriate use of the site, with the developer only concerned with packing as many students into the development as possible, irrespective of the impact on the occupants’ health and welfare, or the best interests of the local community.”
He said they questioned the demand for student apartments, saying that their own surveys suggest students prefer to move into shared houses in the community during their second and third years, rather than purpose-built blocks.
With only three parking spaces provided for 347 students, he said there was concern about the impact on the road network as a large number of students run their own cars.
“The building is totally lacking in any design merit, providing no key-note signature impact at the entry to a major regeneration area of the city.
“At a time when there is a huge housing shortage the developer might consider providing some family housing for the area. This is a real, unfilled need in Selly Oak.”
A report on behalf of Aston Spring Developments, submitted with the planning application, states that the location is ideal for student accommodation and in keeping with the council’s planning policy.
It states: “The proposed design of the scheme has been developed with regard to the surrounding character of existing properties and seeks to enhance the character of the area whilst respecting adjacent buildings
“The development proposed will enhance the social, economic and environmental setting of the site. It will create jobs during the construction phase and within the proposed student accommodation and complementary ground floor unit, and can act as a catalyst for wider positive development.”