Community Partnership for Selly Oak
14th June 2014
“Council planning officers support Trojan Horse developments”
The case of two linked planning applications in Selly Oak highlights a new threat to the Ward and City. In supporting these retrospective applications to retain two properties as large Houses in Multiple Occupancy (HMO - large rented properties) planning officers have stated that since the houses were already large HMOs the applications should be approved.
The purpose of a retrospective planning application is to allow the council to adjudicate on a property which has been developed without proper permission. As all such properties will have been altered prior to the application being made, the current state of a property cannot be used as reason to support the retention of the property in that state. If the planning committee agree with the officers and approve these two applications the move could have implication for planning rules across the City. Others may put up extensions and buildings without consent and then apply to keep them using these cases as a precedent.
The officers also say that because the street in question has lots of smaller six bedroom rented properties these applications, for ten bedrooms each, should be approved. How so when the street is subject to planning restraint against increased rented accommodation? Yet the officers would create a new precedent for even larger rented properties that will spread across the Ward and into neighbouring areas such as Selly Park, Stirchley and Harborne.
In Selly Oak we will have a queue of landlords all too eager to exploit these opportunities. We currently see cases each year where owners complete extensions as if the householder or with no permission at all, only to let the property to as many as ten people without obtaining consent. Owners of these “Trojan Horse” properties will be delighted if the City’s planning officers are seen to endorse this dubious practice – unless the planning committee does the right thing and rejects the applications now before it.