Residents will fight on after seeing planning permission given for a controversial housing development in one of Birmingham’s most historic suburbs.
Dozens of Harborne residents were stunned as Birmingham’s Planning Committee gave the go ahead, by a majority vote, for the building of 16 houses at Ravenscroft Road at the heart of the Moor Pool Estate conservation area.
Hundreds of residents had signed petitions and written letters of objection and been backed by MP Gisela Stuart, local councillors, allotment associations, Friends of the Earth and national conservation watchdog English Heritage.
They argued that the houses, to be built by development firm Graingers, are out of character for a historic area and that the loss of allotments, garages and open space was unacceptable.
There are wider fears that, with pressure to build thousands of new homes in the city, it could open the floodgates for more development in conservation areas. Leading campaigner Emma Moyes said: “We are disgusted. The planning system is skewed and there is no discussion of the major issues. We are clearly considering our position and will be speaking to our lawyers with regards to a judicial review. We will do what we can to fight this.”
Coun Deirdre Alden (Cons, Edgbaston), backing the residents, said: “I am disappointed. I think this will harm the area. It is thanks to the residents that the application has been reduced from what was originally planned. But I still think the character of the area will be ruined for ever.”
The planning committee had taken several weeks to consider the applications and visited Ravenhurst Road to see the site. Ahead of their discussion, they were warned by the committee’s lawyer, Stuart Evans, that a Conservation Area status does not prevent development. But they voted by a majority in favour of all six applications. The vote was largely along party lines with the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats in support and Labour opposed.
One vocal opponent, Coun Keith Linnecor (Lab, Oscott) was scathing of the owners who had allowed garages on the site to fall into such a state of decay and dereliction that they had no option but to order demolition. He said: “It’s shameful to allow them to get into this state. I cannot support this application as I do not think this development is good for the area. It will have a detrimental affect on wildlife, the views and car parking. It cannot go ahead.”
The application to build 16 homes, involving demolishing 137 garages and 12 allotments, has been put forward by builders Graingers, which owns the freehold to 100 Moor Pool homes and the village hall and tennis courts. Spokesman Simon Hoare had earlier said the intention was to build “modest” high-quality family homes while retaining the character of the area. He promised that 26 uncultivated allotments around the estate would be brought back into use.