Ambitious plans for a new 700-home “urban village” in Birmingham are to be submitted by the end of the year, according to the NHS Trust behind the scheme – but the project is already facing opposition from councillors.
University Hospital Birmingham NHS Trust is pressing ahead with a major housing scheme on the site of Selly Oak Hospital and intends to submit its outline planning application to Birmingham City Council by the end of this year.
The Trust, which runs Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Edgbaston, could either sell the 17.2-hectare site once planning permission has been obtained, or manage it in partnership with developers.
But it is pressing ahead with the urban village proposal despite opposition from councillors, who wanted the land used for employment instead.
Bournville councillor Nigel Dawkins (Con) has been pushing for the land to be used for high-value industry, in line with the council’s A38 Technology Corridor proposals.
However, the Trust’s proposals have won a cautious welcome from local MP Steve McCabe (Lab Selly Oak), who praised “the imaginative and inclusive approach” it has adopted but called for continued consultation with residents.
Money raised will be invested back into the Trust, and may be used to develop a new research centre on the site of the old Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Edgbaston, which is no longer used following the construction of a new £545 million facility nearby.
According to the Trust, outline planning application will assume a maximum of 700 units, including those provided within any retained buildings that are developed. It hopes to receive outline planning consent by spring 2012.
The Trust is promising a mixture of family homes and smaller properties, including homes for first-time buyers. The aim is to create an urban village in which people can aim to move up the property ladder.
As part of the commitment to create an environmentally-friendly development, the Trust is working with an arboriculturist to ensure many of the trees on the site are preserved.
The development will also include a large area of public open space towards the south that will be used for recreation and relaxation.
Bournville councillor Nigel Dawkins said he would oppose the scheme at planning committee stage: “These plans have been tweaked a bit to take local concerns into account but they have not substantially changed. They are inappropriate for Bournville. The Trust’s aim is to maximise the amount of money they can raise by building as many homes as they can.
“What I am looking for is a mixed-use site, with some housing but also with high-value employment and with leisure facilities. There are limited resources in the area in terms of schools and other services, and the type of development proposed will place enormous strain on them.”
Mr McCabe praised the trust for listening to residents, but said: “There are some concerns about proposals for more densely packed housing proposals which would see around 70 housing units per hectare, which is certainly on the high side, particularly as elsewhere the development envisages units of around 20 and 35 per hectare which is consistent with existing Selly Oak and Bournville housing.
“The larger proposals could be offset by pursuing plans for sheltered accommodation for those with disabilities and a foyer style establishment. This would utilise the existing facilities offered by the Acorns Hospice and Selly Oak Trust School.
“I will continue to press for some small scale innovative workshops to assist with start up business opportunities.”
Morag Jackson, New Hospitals Project Director with University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We will see a full range of houses on the site, appropriate for not only established family units but also for first-time buyers. We want to create an urban village in which people can move up the property ladder. So, people might go to school locally, move into a starter home, then move on within the village when their family grows. If we can keep families in the area when they become more affluent, that’s good for growth and family cohesion.”