Developer Barratt Homes has won high praise for adapting its plans for 778 homes on the edge of Birmingham City centre.

Planning committee members were delighted with the designs, mix of houses and flats and amount of affordable housing, car parking and green space included in the proposals for the former Matthew Boulton College site at Highgate.

They were particularly impressed that, unusually for a city centre scheme, the development included almost 150 three-bedroom houses.

Cllr Peter Douglas Osborn (Cons, Weoley) said: “This means we can start getting families living back in the city centre.”

It is a major turnaround from a previous appearance at the committee last year when earlier designs were likened to Colditz and described as bland shoeboxes .

The new plans were not without controversy however as conservation groups, including the Victorian Society, have objected to the demolition of the 1903 built St Luke’s Church and Highgate Centre, which opened in 1877.

But the committee were satisfied that the heritage buildings, which are not legally listed, could be sacrificed.

Cllr Keith Linnecor (Lab, Oscott) said: “It is sad to see the church going, we have kept far worse historic buildings. But we do need the homes for our residents.”

He was also pleased that although 81 established trees will be pulled down, they will be replaced with 330 new ones in green spaces, which also include a playing pitch and children’s playground.

His colleague cllr Gareth Moore (Cons, Erdington), described the offer of 544 car parking spaces - enough for about 70 per cent of the properties - as ‘fantastic’.

He has been a constant critic of other city centre developments which offer no spaces for car owners.

“This is a great step forward, a large improvement,” he said.

Barratt Homes revises plans for major Birmingham housing estate

The revised development was backed unanimously by the 15 strong committee. They were also delighted that ten per cent of the properties will be made available at an affordable rate, particularly as the developer behind the nearby Monaco House site has so far offered no cut price properties .

It means that 590 flats - of which 194 will be one bedroom and 396 two-bedroom can be built. They will be in blocks of up to 15 storeys.

Of the 188 houses, nine will have one bedroom, 30 will have two and an incredible 149 will be three bedroom homes.

St Luke's Church in Birmingham
St Luke's Church in Birmingham

The developer managed to widen the range and size of properties from the original designs by building the apartment blocks higher - up from 11 storeys in the original scheme.

John Fitzgerald, managing director at Barratt Homes Mercia, said: “We are thrilled to have received planning permission for redevelopment of the Bristol Street site in Birmingham.

“The development will provide 778 one and two bedroom apartments and much needed three bedroom family homes to meet local needs. Alongside the homes we will also deliver open space in the form of a neighbourhood park and formal landscaped square. There will also be communal spaces for residents including a gym and lounge and a retail unit.

“We will continue to work closely with Birmingham City Council throughout the development process, and look forward to creating a new community on Bristol Street.”