Elliott Rd Student Halls

Here are some  specific objections to the Elliott Rd proposals

STOP PRESS. Watkin Jones have issued an addendum to their planing statement indicating their intention to develop the rest of the Elliott Rd industrial estate, likely adding a further 700 rooms to their development.

You can view the plans and make formal comments for consideration by the Planning Committee here using planning reference 2020/00376/PA. Or you can send written comments to Planning and Development, PO Box 28, Birmingham B1 1TU quoting the same planning reference number. Comments are due by 20th Feb 2020.

Need for student housing not demonstrated. TP33 in the Birmingham Development Plan demands that there is a demonstrated need for student residences. Figures supplied by the developer on student housing needs are misleading because the include students who live at home and ignore the large student HMO housing stock. A report accepted by the BCC Planning Committee on 21 Nov 2019 shows that once students living at home are removed there are 36,218 students requiring rented accommodation in the city and an estimated 43,281 rooms available across all types of rented accommodation.

Over development. TP33 of the BDP says that "the scale, massing and architecture of the development is appropriate for the location". The development is too big and too dense, 526 student rooms are proposed for a site that would accommodate at most 20 houses if developed as affordable housing. 

The developers have a stated aim of extending this hall over the rest of the Elliott Rd industrial estate adding an estimated 700 additional rooms. This will hem in the housing in Sturge Close between student halls.

The development might also be contrasted with a recent proposal to extend the student halls on Pritchatts Rd which has around 400 rooms on an area about 10 times as big as the Elliott Rd site. 

The proposed site is also very close to existing halls of residence on Sturge Close, the Bristol Rd, and on Selly Oak Shopping Park. Other local authorities limit the number of students halls in a given area, why does Birmingham not do this?

Planning by stealth. The developers are being disingenuous by submitting plans for a limited development while clearly intending to develop the rest of the industrial estate. This is planning by stealth. If the current plans are approved it opens the gate for the rest of the site to be developed.

Distance from University. TP33 in the BDP demands that halls of residence be very well located to the university that it serves. The site is a significant 21 minute walk from the Library at the University of Birmingham. The campus is large so a central student facility is a suitable location against which to judge walking distances. The City Council has recently rejected proposals for halls of residence that were only 15 minutes walk from their target university.

Loss of amenity. TP33 of the BDP mandates that halls should not have an unacceptable impact on the local amenity. The site is currently home to a gymnastics club which is one of very few recreational facilities for children in the district. The development will also remove a number of trees from the site.

Threat to industrial units and Lookers Garage. As the developers themselves note their proposal will change the nature of Selly Oak and make the redevelopment of the remaining industrial units and Lookers Garage as student halls of residence more likely.

Unsympathetic Development. TP33 of the BDP says that student developments should "not have an unacceptable impact on the local neighbourhood and residential amenity". As a gated community this development will be unwelcoming and provide only poor active frontage to Elliot Rd. It  is blocky will be out of character with the red-brick terraced housing opposite.

Threat to community. In the context of an OVERSUPPLY of student housing across all sectors this proposal could result in the closure of 70-80 HMOs. This could be seen as a positive if there were any evidence that these HMOs will revert to family housing. Unfortunately the majority of HMOs in Selly Oak have had unsympathetic conversions and rents are too high for families. We are already seeing HMOs converting to Supported Housing which offer landlords hih government subsidies. Supported Housing mixes ex-offenders with those with social issues such as substance abuse which is a toxic mix in itself and not suitable in an area of high student density. There is evidence that other local authorities are moving clients into Supported Housing in Birmingham. 

Car Parking. The development has negligible parking. Promise to write bans on cars into student contracts have not worked at other developments where we know that around 17% of students have brought cars with them to the city. Illegitimate parking associated with this site will put pressure on local roads including those on the Selly Oak Hospital Development and potentially the Railway Station car park. The proposed controlled parking area will not stop students bringing cars, just displace them.

Poor living conditions. TP33 of BDP  says that developments should provide a welcoming and safe environment for students. The density of rooms and significant number of studio rooms will be detrimental to student mental health.