Steve McCabe, MP for Birmingham Selly Oak, has called on Turley Developers to temporarily withdraw their Planning Application to build over 1000 student accommodation units on the former Sainsburys site in Selly Oak for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic.
Turley has submitted a Planning Application to convert the Sainsbury’s site to a huge student accommodation block. The major Planning Application contains over 110 documents and, if approved, will dramatically change the character of the area. Local residents are concerned that the proposal will diminish Selly Oak’s identity and cause many families to consider leaving.
The statutory consultation period for the application ends on 3 April 2020 but has since been extended by Birmingham City Council to 17 April 2020. Steve McCabe is now calling on the developers to temporarily withdraw the application given the current situation. It is feared that resident groups and forums will not be able to meet to coordinate their response and people who do not have access to the online comment system and would normally respond by letter won’t be able to do so in the time available.
The local MP has noted that the planning process needs to be adapted to cope with the demands caused by the Covid 19 crisis. Councils should be looking at how they can make sure applications are effectively scrutinised during this time, including postponing major applications until they have developed a suitable virtual system which will allow full voice for all community objections.
Local people are also keenly awaiting updates from the proposed Elliot Road site which is scheduled to come before the Planning Committee shortly.
Steve McCabe MP said:
“The developers know that there are many reservations about their plans but claim they are looking to work with the community. They must know perfectly well that with the Planning Dept is short staffed because of illness and self-isolating and be aware of all the other restrictions imposed on normal community life. It won’t be remotely possible for objections to their plans to be given a fair hearing as things stand. The decent thing to do is to temporarily withdraw their Planning Application during the crisis and have it considered on a proper basis when life returns to normal or when suitable virtual arrangements are in place. Any other approach could be interpreted as taking advantage of the crisis as an opportunity to bulldoze through what is clearly a very unwelcome, speculative plan for yet more student accommodation”