People power triumphed over officialdom yesterday when the residents of one of Birmingham's most desirable suburbs defeated plans to turn a large Victorian house into an up-market restaurant.
The planning committee's decision to refuse Calthorpe Estates permission to turn 7 Church Road, Edgbaston, into a restaurant was a major embarrassment for council officials, who three weeks ago recommended approval.
Officials said there was no reason why the building should not be changed to commercial use. The property, vacant for several years but once a family dwelling, is only yards from Simpsons, Birmingham's only Michelin-star restaurant.
A campaign by residents from nearby Carpenter Road, who argued a restaurant would be noisy and unsuitable in a residential area, defeated Birmingham's assistant planning director, Phil Crabtree.
Mr Crabtree told a meeting of the planning committee at the beginning of November he saw "no problem" in allowing the property to be turned into a restaurant since it was not a residential area.
Yesterday, however, planning officers' advice to the committee had changed. A report noted the proposed change of use would result in the loss of a single family dwelling and Calthorpe Estates had failed to demonstrate good reasons or social need for a restaurant.
Edgbaston Conservative councillor Deirdre Alden, who championed the residents' cause, described the committee's decision as a victory. She added: "This just goes to show how well organised residents can influence the planning committee."
Calthorpe Estates, which had lined up a Michelin-star chef to run the restaurant, insisted it had proved impossible to sell 7 Church Road as a house, despite advertising for five months.
Coun Alden said residents were in favour of attracting a second Michelin-star restaurant to Edgbaston, but not in a residential area.
A Calthorpe Estates spokeswoman said: "We are surprised and disappointed." with the decision after planning officers recommended approval.
"This was not a speculative application, as we have agreed terms with a Michelin-star chef and are keen to build on the highest quality leisure facilities, both for the benefit of Edgbaston and Birmingham."