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Not long ago, we objected to a planning application relating to the building next door to us. Birmingham City Council seemed to recognise our concerns by rejecting this application. Now a very similar application has been lodged with the council. Unsurprisingly, we have concerns about this application too.

If you also have views on this application, please head to the Birmingham planning portal and search for application no. 2017/10021/PA. The deadline for comments is Saturday 16 December 2017.

Here’s what we wrote:

We are writing to oppose 2017/10021/PA relating to 18-20 Albion Court Frederick Street Birmingham B1 3HE.

2017/10021/PA follows a Decision Notice dated 30 October 2017 on 2017/08622/PA, an application relating to the same property from the same developers.

This Decision Notice stated:

“Insufficient information has been provided to demonstrate the impacts of noise from commercial premises on the intended occupiers of the development, in particular noise from nearby entertainment uses.”

We opposed 2017/08622/PA and in doing so – like the Decision Notice – raised concerns about noise. In our submission on 2017/08622/PA, we stated:

The noise impact assessment accompanying 2017/08622/PA appears to have been conducted on a Wednesday and Thursday, which is not representative of noise levels across the week as a whole. This unrepresentative assessment might indicate that inadequate consideration has been given to a.) existing business operations in the locality, b.) the adequacy of noise insulation at the proposed development.

We note that the noise impact assessment accompanying 2017/10021/PA continues to be based upon the same recordings from a Wednesday and Thursday that informed the noise impact assessment that accompanied 2017/08622/PA. These days of the week are not representative of the operations of our business across the entirety of the week.

As a result of this inadequate noise impact assessment, our concerns are unchanged on noise and we see no basis for any revision to the Decision Notice of 30 October 2017.

We raised further concerns in relation to 2017/08622/PA and see no evidence in 2017/10021/PA that these have been acted upon. We restate these concerns:

  1. ‘Car Parking Guidelines: Supplementary Planning Document’ published by the Birmingham City Council has a standard expectation of 1 parking space per residency. Yet 2017/08622/PA proposes only 3 parking spaces for 23 residencies. That would create 19 additional residencies in the Jewellery Quarter without parking spaces. Notwithstanding the proposed provision of cycle facilities and availability of public transport, it remains implausible that none of these 19 would not own a car. Therefore, we will have more on street parking. This risks disruption and inconvenience to nearby residents and businesses. These 19 residencies are likely to increase pressure on the Jewellery Quarter parking permit scheme, increasing the risk that this scheme does not work effectively.
  1. The draft Jewellery Quarter Neighbourhood Plan seeks to safeguard existing businesses (and residents) by ensuring that any proposed developments identify sources of potential nuisance and mitigate them. The approach in 2017/08622/PA towards noise and car park facilities suggests that this has not been done.
  1. Last year, a planning application (2016/05179/PA) was refused at this address. The council gave four reasons for refusing 2016/05179/PA. We wonder whether these reasons also apply to the proposed development.
  1. We wonder whether the proposed development is in keeping with what local residents and businesses want the Jewellery Quarter to be. If we want the Jewellery Quarter to be somewhere that people put down roots, we might wonder whether the development would best encourage people to do this – for example, 3 apartments with basement bedrooms would only have very small windows at footpath level. If we want the Jewellery Quarter to retain its distinctive character, we might question a 100% residential development in the Industrial Middle of the Jewellery Quarter is appropriate – as this seems to contravene policy 2.2 in the Jewellery Quarter Conservation Area Management Plan and GA1.3 in the Birmingham Development Plan that seek to safeguard and strengthen local distinctiveness.

At no stage have those behind 2017/10021/PA and 2017/08622/PA engaged with us on these concerns. Nor, as far as we are aware, have they engaged with others in the Jewellery Quarter community who have raised similar concerns.

This lack of engagement does not seem indicative of a willingness to act upon obligations towards existing businesses and residents.

At the same time, we note that Seven Capital have erected a large banner on Frederick Street indicating that flats at 18-20 Albion Court are for sale. We are submitting a photograph of this banner alongside this submission. Given that 2017/10021/PA has not been approved, it is not clear on what basis these flats are being offered for sale.

Seven Capital - Albion Court

We conclude with the same points with which we concluded our opposition to 2017/08622/PA:

1000 Trades is proud to be investing in a thriving neighbourhood. We support the local community in a variety of ways. We want the Jewellery Quarter to be somewhere that people are proud to put down roots. We also want the distinctiveness of the Jewellery Quarter to be maintained. We recognise that there is a delicate balance to be maintained in the Jewellery Quarter between residencies and a wide range of different kinds of business. For the reasons outlined above, we feel that the proposed development would be out of kilter with this balance.