14th Nov, 2019

Garden-grabbing scheme set for approval - despite Solihull residents' court victory and 400-name petition

Sarah Mason 1st Oct, 2019

SOLIHULL planning chiefs are set to grant permission tomorrow for a controversial ‘garden grabbing’ application in Solihull – despite a resident winning a judicial review to prevent it and a 400-name petition.

Plans to demolish 23 Alderbrook Road, build five five-plus-bedroom houses and extend number 21 were initially given the green light by Solihull chiefs last October.

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

The judicial review found the policy P5 of the Local Plan was incorrectly interpreted.

It looks at protecting and enhancing the character and distinctiveness of different areas, and protecting the environmental quality and attractiveness of the mature suburbs.

The court also ordered Solihull Council to pay Ms Somerville the costs of the application in the agreed sum of £8,554.

Tomorrow (Wednesday, October 2) Solihull planning committee is due to discuss a renewed application.

In a report published ahead of the meeting, planning officers state the application should be ‘granted consent subject to conditions’.

It notes the High Court decision and states the council’s officers have re-considered the application on all aspects and suggested approval based on a number of factors.

They include that the site is in an accessible location, there would be no demonstrable adverse impacts regarding neighbour amenities, highways, ecology, landscape, sustainability and drainage, and the application is in accordance with policy P5 of the local plan.

Ms Somerville said: “Although the court judgement papers were issued in January this year, it has taken Solihull Council planning department nearly eight months to decide that the application is ready to go before the planning committee for re-determination.

“While the plans for the four large 6 bedroomed properties in the gardens at the rear of the 21 to 27 development site remain unchanged from the quashed application, number 21 has already been extended under a separately approved planning application and number 23 has been demolished apart from the extension on the side.

“A recent standalone application for changes to the original plans for replacement number 23 had been submitted but was withdrawn last week.”

Since the High Court’s ruling, 23 objections have been handed to the council about the application following re-notification.

They maintain the application still goes against policy P5, the previous presentation for the application was misleading, and the access road width should be clarified.

Previously, 128 objections were handed to the council from residents plus an objection from Councillor Joe Tildesley.

A separate petition had been received from Coun Tildesley on behalf of local residents which contained 409 signatures.

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