The government’s Planning Inspectorate has overturned Sandwell Council’s Planning Committee decision to reject the creation of over 50 bedsit units above the shops on Bearwood Road.
Despite a wave of opposition from local residents living nearby, the Bristol-based Inspectorate ruled that the property developers could go ahead and convert the rooms above the shops in to bedsits.
Abbey councillor Bob Piper, who opposed the bedsits at the planning hearing in Sandwell said, “This is once again evidence of remote civil servants completely ignoring the wishes of local people. No-one seriously opposed the use of the space above the shops being converted for use for flats. In fact, some of the units already do have people living in them. However, this proposal attempts to maximise the developer’s profits by cramming as many units as possible in to the smallest space! One of the double shop fronts will find the space above the shops converted into 11 separate homes. For people living in nearby Herbert Road this threatens to be a nightmare as their properties are overlooked, and parking, already at a premium, threatens to become near impossible.
“There is barely any allowance for communal space whatsover, neither inside nor outside of the bedsits. It appears the developers are happy creating these equivalents to human battery farms, and the Planning Inspectorate, who won’t have to live with the consequences of their decision are content to allow them to do so.
“The units so far only apply to half of the row of shops. If and when they extend their plans to all of the shops there could be over 100 bedsits. The developers say they intend to let their tiny bedsits to ‘young professional single people without cars’ although they fully admit that they cannot enforce that as a tenancy condition. The reality is, now the Inspectorate have caved in and allowed the plans the landlords can let their properties to anyone they wish.”