A developer’s ‘big, bold and fab’ designs for more than 1,000 homes in Birmingham city centre are unlikely to be approved unless they offer some affordable homes or community spin-offs.
That was the verdict of the council’s planning committee as they were given their first official look at plans for the £275 million regeneration of the Monaco House site on Bristol Road.
Developer Orchidtame Ltd has outlined proposals for a series of blocks ranging from low rise town houses up to a landmark 29 storey tower surrounding ground floor shops and open spaces.
Planning committee members were mostly gushing in their praise of the both the designs and the principle of providing more than 1,000 new homes to meet huge demand in the city.
Cllr Barry Henley (Lab, Brandwood) who is outspoken in his criticism of some architecture, said: “This is a great place for this. It is the right scale. It’s an elegant design in the right place.”
He added that it was a huge improvement previous plans for a superstore on the site which was dropped by Tesco.
His colleague Martin Straker-Welds (Lab, Moseley and Kings Heath) added: “Its big, bold and fab.”
The development is next to another major regeneration project, this time for 772 homes on the former Matthew Boulton College site, which will see the area to the south of the city centre transformed over the next few years.
And committee members suggested that work would be needed to ensure roads around the Bristol Street and Belgrave Middleway junction can cope with the extra demand.
But the developer was criticised over the failure to promise any affordable housing, all 1,009 homes will be available at full market rent, or any community spin-offs such as funding, known as Section 106 money, for open space, transport upgrades, health or school services to offset the impact of thousands of new residents moving in. The City Council normally asks for at least 35 per cent affordable housing for major developments - or a payment to subsidise housing elsewhere.
Cllr Kerry Jenkins (Lab, Hall Green) said: “It’s a really good development, it’s wonderful. But to not have any affordable housing or section 106 funding is very disappointing.”
Cllr Henley added: “They have not got a cat in hell’s chance of this committee approving a thousand homes with no provision for open space, play areas, education or whatever.”
According to a report to the committee the developer has submitted their business plan, which will be independently verified, showing that they cannot afford the community spin-offs. However they are proposing cycle ways, walkways and a significant amount of landscaping around the new estate.
But cllr Peter Douglas Osborn (Cons, Weoley) said, hinting at the recent collapse of developer Carrillion, that developments do not always make a profit and that the development would make a significant contribution to Birmingham’s need to build 45,000 new homes by 2030.