PROPOSAL: Student complex rejected due to size
Plans to replace the old Selly Oak Sainsbury’s supermarket with a huge new student accommodation block have been thrown out due to its size.
Birmingham City Council’s planning committee rejected the proposal for the 1,187 development on the land at Chapel Lane, Harborne Lane and Bristol Road at a meeting on Thursday (February 4).
The application, put forward by the Hines firm and falls under its Aparto student accommodation brand, had been recommended for approval by authority officers.
It would have featured 239 self-contained studios and 948 en-suite room as well as a games room, study, lounge, launderette, auditorium and gymnasium for the students within the complex.
More than 100 letters of objection were received during the consultation phase before it went to committee.
The matter was discussed at a planning meeting last month but was deferred with members indicating they were minded to reject the plan.
They raised concerns about insufficient cycle parking, impact on the neighbourhood, no need for student accommodation and the scale and density of the development.
But at Thursday’s meeting, officers warned the committee they believed three of those reasons would lead to the authority losing an appeal and also forced to pay significant costs.
Sean Hannaby, assistant director of planning, said the only possible defendable reason was the scale and density as it was a subjective opinion.
The committee decided to refuse the proposal on the basis of its scale and density being over-dominant and out of context with its surroundings.
Ward councillor Julie Johnson said: “Nothing for me has changed unfortunately here and I feel I am unable to support this.
“My response is the same as when we heard the application last. There will be not enough of a demonstrated student demand to justify the large development.
“The proposed development will still have an unacceptable impact on the local community and neighbourhood.
“The developer makes us aware they may seek to appeal and that of course is their right.
“It is stated in their letter the worst case is the refusal would leave potentially the site being left vacant and blighting the Selly Oak centre.
“But there is always the chance the developer might not even start the proposed development and that would leave it vacant.
“This is a development the community are objecting to. The residents’ association have written to the committee.
“Our residents have stated it is not something they want and it is therefore we should be listening to their views. It is their community and it is of course where they live too. We must always remember that
“Any new purpose built student accommodation is to serve a growth in numbers and respond to change in student preference.
“I don’t think this development is required because we can’t predict what we need with any certainty. We know that students are living in their own homes, in HMOs or with parents.
“The scale and density of the development will most certainly impact on the community. We have the building next door to this development which has some vacancies.
“The proposed development is over dominant with the surrounding area and residential dwellings and does harm the character and appearance of the area.”
Councillor Gareth Moore, who lived in Selly Oak around 10 years ago, said there was no need for more student accommodation in the area.
He also said dismissed concerns the site will remain undeveloped if this proposal was not given the green light.
Gurdip Thandi, Local Democracy Reporter
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