A controversial back-garden development, which will involve demolishing four detached houses in order to build a 61-bed private care home for elderly people, has been given the go-ahead in Sutton Coldfield despite a protest campaign by people living nearby and the local MP.
Birmingham planning committee has given permission for the scheme in Penns Lane, Wylde Green, after being told that refusal would be contrary to Government policy requiring local authorities to provide more high-quality accommodation for people in their 80s and 90s.
The committee’s legal adviser warned the city council would probably lose an appeal, and face substantial costs, if the application was turned down.
Members also approved the construction of 11 four and five-bedroom houses next to the care home on the same site.
The application, by Warwick-based Sandstone Group, was a scaled down version of a previous bid to build a 124-bedroom care home on the land. That proposal was rejected by the committee last year and is to be the subject of an appeal at the end of this month.
The council received almost 100 letters of objection to the latest proposal along with two petitions from local residents, who were supported by Sutton Coldfield MP Andrew Mitchell.
Their objections were based on the amount of additional traffic likely to be generated on Penns Road, noise and disturbance from the care home, over-development of a small site and inadequate parking arrangements.
Sutton councillor Margaret Waddington, who voted against the application, said there were more appropriate sites in Birmingham for a care home.
Coun Waddington (Con Sutton Trinity) added: “Maybe a care home is needed in Sutton Coldfield, but this is not the place.
“Penns Lane is an extremely fast road and this will cause serious traffic problems. The proposal is completely out of keeping with the surrounding area.
“And with 60-odd old people flushing their loos every hour, I don’t know how Severn Trent can say there is no problem with the drainage.”
Committee chairman Peter Douglas Osborn admitted residents were concerned about the loss of four “beautiful” houses, which will be knocked down to make way for the care home and new housing. But that was not a matter over which the council had any control.
He recognised concerns about additional vehicles on the roads from families occupying the new houses, but did not believe this would warrant rejecting the application.
A written report by council planning officers concluded: “The scheme provides a care home and 11 family houses. It is recognised, by the Government, that there is an established need for both of these land uses and that national planning guidance gives this a high priority.
“There is an established need for further quality care homes in the area which can provide a range of services within a modern facility. It is also recognised that national guidance strongly advises against asking for more on-site car parking than the applicant considers necessary.”
The report adds: “The proposed care home is larger than most other plot sizes and footprints of buildings in the area. However, it has been designed in such a way that there are several recesses and projections in the elevations to break up its scale and massing.
“As such, it would be more in keeping with the character of the area than the previously refused scheme.”
John Culligan, assistant director of planning, said: “We feel that this scheme has been very carefully designed to fit in with the character of the surrounding area. I wouldn’t be optimistic about our chances of successfully defending a refusal at an appeal.”