Saturday, April 15, 2006

A partial victory

For a while now, I've been waging a campaign with the residents of Francis Road against a ludicrous scheme to build flats on a patch of land at the end of the road.

It isn't that they have a problem with bringing this bit of canal-side brownfield land back into use for housing, but the scheme is outlandishly large and would add to the problems that the road already faces.

It is a narrow road with no turning spaces and currently, even the refuse trucks can't get down it to collect the bin bags. Cars are damaged on a regular basis and residents are used to having to go to the top of the road to collect deliveries.

The idea of adding a further 19 properties (most with two bedrooms) to this road is clearly daft - there was insufficient parking for the expected vehicles and the building was entirely out of keeping with the neighbourhood. There were objections from West Midlands Fire Service, who found problems getting an engine down there and other objections from the environmental services department and other elements of the council. Surprisingly, when the application came to committee the other week, it was approved, despite huge local objections.

Fortunately, the application submitted was only an outline, so the plans as such are irrelevant. The applicants will need to revise the plans and return for full approval within a few years. All that has been approved is that the site is suitable for residential development - which it is. A few years ago, someone did apply to build houses on the site and there were no local objections. NIMBYism isn't part of the issue, but this is an entirely unsuitably development plan and we'll continue to oppose it.

Development should be an important issue for the ward - we have too many flats appearing virtually overnight and far too many fast food restaurants are being granted permission without consideration of the impact that they have on the local community. I've lost count of the number of complaints that I've received over litter. Fortunately, we have a pro-active local community police officer who is happy to work alongside environmental services to stop litter louts and issue them fixed penalty notices. I know that they complain that he should be out there catching murderers and rapists, but he's doing a cracking job attacking an issue that causes people real anger.

As far as development goes, it needs to be in keeping with the area and appropriate. If it isn't, I'll oppose it.

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