Conservationists have welcomed plans for a more considered approach by developers after proposals to restore historic villas as part of a new retirement village in Birmingham were given the go-ahead.
The decison comes just weeks after plans for a nearby scheme that will see a row of similar properties demolished was approved.
Retirement village operator Audley, in partnership with Calthorpe Estates, will build 95 apartments around the restoration of two Georgian villas off Church Road and Calthorpe Road as part of the Edgbaston scheme called St George’s Place.
Planners at Birmingham City Council have described the proposals as “a breath of fresh air”.
The latest decision comes weeks after planners gave permission for the city council and ExtraCare Charitable Trust to build a £40 million retirement village on 322-336 Hagley Road, the location of a row of derelict Victorian villas.
Conservationists were dismissed as “middle class idiots” by Conservative councillor Len Clark for objecting to the proposals.
Following the latest announcement, Katie Gunning, campaigns officer for the Victorian Society, said: “This is a much more encouraging approach to retain the buildings and it’s a shame that planners didn’t apply the same theory to the Hagley Road development.
“We are not anti-retirement village - we support that - but think this should be achieved by retaining existing buildings.”
Audley has been praised for its plans after close consultation with the city council’s planning team since the application for St George’s Place was submitted in August 2010.
Nick Sanderson, chief executive of Audley, said Edgbaston was a ‘‘perfect location’’ for its new development.
“The Audley concept is unique and we pride ourselves on providing beautiful homes with unrivalled services in an environment which offers both independence and support as and when you need it.
"We’re delighted with the decision and are hoping to start work in 2012, with the first residents taking occupation a year later.
“Edgbaston is the perfect location, with beautiful surroundings and easy access to the city centre.
‘‘We look forward to working with the local community and restoring the two stunning properties to create our Audley Club with its facilities of hotel standard such as restaurant, bistro and health and well-being facilities.”
Jayne Herritty, sales and marketing director at Calthorpe Estates, said: “This is a fantastic scheme for Edgbaston and the unanimous support received from councillors is testament to that.
‘‘Audley Care has worked closely with Birmingham City Council and the planning committee were quick to praise the way in which they have worked hard to retain the historic integrity of the area and the listed buildings included in the development.
“We are very proud to welcome Audley to The Calthorpe Estate,’’
Ms Herritty added: ‘‘This new retirement development, alongside the ExtraCare scheme on Hagley Road which was granted planning consent last month and the existing Sunrise Care nursing home on Church Road, will provide much needed facilities and care for the growing number of elderly people living in Edgbaston and further afield.”