21st Oct, 2019

Garden grabbing development given go ahead despite fierce opposition and judicial review

Sarah Mason 8th Oct, 2019

A CONTROVERSIAL ‘garden grabbing’ scheme has been given the green light despite fierce opposition and a judicial review.

Plans to demolish 23 Alderbrook Road, build five five-plus-bedroom houses and extend number 21 were discussed by planning chiefs at Solihull Council last week, as we reported.

The site has a long and complicated history. A development was previously refused in 2017, only for a revised scheme to be approved last October.

However, following a court battle – lead by campaigner Fiona Somerville – the High Court quashed the council’s decision in January.

The judicial review found the policy P5 of the Local Plan, which looks at enhancing the character and distinctiveness of different areas, was incorrectly interpreted.

Nine months on, the issue once again split the planning committee, which granted planning permission by a majority of five to four.

Residents and councillors including Coun Joe Tildesley spoke out against the plans, saying they still contravened the council’s own Local Plan.

He said in response to an agenda report by council officers, which recommended councillors on the planning committee approve the shceme: “I am disappointed in the extreme that the report author tries to tell you that there is nothing to fear by you granting permission as there is plenty of precedent for garden grabbing within Alderbrook Road, the wider St Alphege and indeed Solihull.

“[The document] is wrong and it sticks two fingers up to the judge who carried out the judicial review by saying we can ignore your findings because we believe we have found another way around the problem.

“The only way to deal with this tonight is to refuse it unanimously and let the Planning Inspectorate at Bristol make the final decision.”

Planning officer Kim Allen said the previous ruling on the way policy had been applied did not act as a bar to granting permission at the location.

Glenda Parkes, from Tyler Parkes planning consultancy, said the applicant fully understood the “nervousness and apprehension” about the development, but insisted it would be a “high quality” project.

She argued the scheme was effectively a cul-de-sac development, of which there were several examples along Alderbrook Road.

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