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Aston Hotel, Witton Road, Aston, Birmingham, B6 6NS...
Transcript of Aston Hotel, Witton Road, Aston, Birmingham, B6 6NS...
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Committee Date: 28/05/2015 Application Number: 2015/00212/PA
Accepted: 16/01/2015 Application Type: Full Planning
Target Date: 13/03/2015
Aston Hotel, Witton Road, Aston, Birmingham, B6 6NS
Demolition of single storey side extensions and change of use from former public house to 41 bed hostel with associated landscaping and staff car parking Applicant: Mr Bangla Bazar
96 Whitehead Road, Aston, Birmingham, B6 6EL Agent: BSP Design
71 Finch Rd, Handsworth, Birmingham, B19 1HP
Recommendation Refuse 1. Proposal 1.1. Consent is sought for the demolition of single storey side extensions and the change
of use of the former Aston Hotel PH to a hostel with associated landscaping and parking.
1.2. The proposed hostel would provide 41 bedrooms for homeless persons and vulnerable females who have suffered from instances of domestic abuse. The hostel would cater for both male and females across the entire age range who would reside at the premises for between 2 weeks and 3 months. The applicant has advised that vulnerable females would reside within the annexe separate from the main building.
1.3. The applicant has advised that CCTV would be located internally and externally and
the premises would be monitored by a 24 hour approved manned security system.
1.4. The applicant has advised that there would be 1 day and 1 night caretaker and 1 manager who would visit the premises for a few hours on alternating days. The applicant has advised that staff would provide training or sign post residents to training, education and employment services.
1.5. The applicant has advised that they are in discussions with Trident and the Centre
for the Aston Family sited adjacent to the application site to provide training and support for residents of the hostel.
1.6. The internal alterations to the annexe and the first floor would be limited to the subdivision of a number of larger bedrooms into single occupancy rooms. The majority of the internal alterations would be in relation to the ground floor – 4 bar areas, the restaurant and the function room would be stripped out to accommodate single occupancy bedrooms and communal facilities.
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1.7. The hostel would accommodate 41 bedrooms split over the ground floor, first floor and within the annexe. The ground floor would accommodate 20 bedrooms, communal bathrooms and toilets, kitchens, IT room and a staff office. The first floor would accommodate 14 bedrooms and a multi-purpose room. 7 bedrooms would be accommodated within the annexe. Although within the fabric of the main building 5 bedrooms in addition to the bedrooms in the annexe would be only be accessible from the courtyard.
1.8. The applicant is proposed irregularly shaped amenity space measuring 63sq.m,
planting between the main building and annexe and planting along parts of the road frontage.
1.9. The applicant is proposing 3 off street car parking spaces for staff accessed off
1.10. The applicant is proposing the demolition of a toilet block along the Aston Lane adjacent to the existing vehicular access.
1.11. The applicant has advised that the former Aston Hotel has been vacant for a number
1.12. Link to Documents 2. Site & Surroundings 2.1. The application site comprises the former Aston Hotel PH located on a prominent
road junction of Witton Road and Witton Lane.
2.2. The site is located within the boundary of Witton Neighbourhood Centre (as defined by the Shopping and Local Centres SPD) and within 100m of Villa Park football stadium. Tesco Supermarket (open 24 hours a day) is located 70m north of the application site.
2.3. The property is an architecturally attractive two storey building constructed using red
brick and stone with strong gable and bay window features, stone entrances and tall chimneys.
2.4. A more recent single storey annexe is sited along the southern boundary.
2.5. A vehicular access off Witton Lane exists and leads to the rear area which is laid out
to hardstanding. 3. Planning History 3.1. None relevant. 4. Consultation/PP Responses 4.1. Site notices displayed, local residents, resident associations and Councillors from
Aston and Perry Barr Ward notified. 19 individual objections letters, a 6 signature petition, and objection letters from Perry Aston Resident Association, Birmingham Settlement, Aston Parish Church and Shabana Mahmood MP have been received.
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Neighbour objections and the petition in objection express the following concerns: Increased crime, drug use, sexual exploitation and anti-social behaviour;
Over proliferation of hostels in the local area; Further strain on local resources; Noise and disturbance for residents on match days;
Hostel would increase deprivation the local area; Further short term/transient housing would negatively impact on the local area; The local community have not been consulted on the proposals; Increased traffic; The proposal would affect property prices in the area Perry Aston Residents Association have objected on the grounds that residents would be affected by noise and disturbance on match days; The former Aston PH was not failing and was running until April 2014; the proximity of Yew Tree Primary School; drinking in public; drug use; strain on existing GP services; Aston ward has more hostels than any other ward in the City and Aston should not be used a “dumping ground” and more poverty should not be imposed on residents. Birmingham Settlement who operate Aston Family have commented that they work with Trident and Midland Heart and are not aware of the proposals at the Aston Hotel; the applicant has not demonstrated how and what type of support would be provided; the proposal would not enhance the area or support the local community; there are 15 hostels in the local area with a link between these hostels and crime; the area needs long term secure housing rather than short stay accommodation. Shabana Mahmood MP reiterates the comments made by the Perry Aston Residents Association. Aston Parish Church oppose the creation of more short term accommodation and comment that a more transient population would hinder development of a sustainable community and the hostel does not appear to be associated with a charity. West Midlands Police – Object. Aston Ward has a total of 15 operating hostels which generate a significant number of calls to service and offences. This proposal would result in an over-intensification of hostels in the area and cumulatively would increase crime, anti-social behaviour and the fear of crime. The building itself is vulnerable with a number of access routes into the site and the building. The proposal to house vulnerable females in the annexe is also strongly objected to. Regulatory Services – no objection subject to conditions for noise insulation and details of extraction and odour control system. Transportation – no objection subject to condition for cycle storage and boundary treatment along Witton Lane. 56 individual letters, a 1016 signature petition and letter from Khalid Mahmood MP in support of the application have been received. The letters of support state the proposal would support vulnerable people and benefit the local community. Khalid Mahmood supports the application on the basis that it would provide a valuable service, contribute to housing in the area and create jobs.
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5. Policy Context 5.1. The following local planning policies are applicable:
Birmingham UDP Draft Birmingham Development Plan Places for Living Development Involving Public Houses SPG Residential Use Specific Needs SPD The following national planning policy is applicable The National Planning Policy Framework National Planning Policy Guidance
6. Planning Considerations 6.1. The proposal should be assessed against the objectives of the policy context set out
6.2. The NPPF advises that applications should be considered in the context of a
presumption in favour of sustainable development except where any adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits.
6.3. The social dimension of the sustainable development theme contained within the NPPF states that the planning system should support strong, vibrant and healthy communities by creating a high quality environment, with accessible local services that reflect the community’s needs and support its health, social and cultural well-being.
6.4. The NPPF advises that planning policies should be positive, promote competitive town centre environments and set out policies for the management and growth of centres. Local Planning Authorities should recognise town centres as the heart of their communities and pursue policies to support their viability and vitality and should allocate a range of suitable sites to meet the scale and type of retail, leisure, commercial, office, tourism, cultural, community and residential development needed in town centres.
6.5. The emerging Birmingham Development Plan advises that a diverse range of
facilities and uses will be encouraged and supported in centres which are consistent with the scale and function of the centre.
6.6. Residential Uses (Specific Needs) reiterates policies 8.28 and 8.29 of the
Birmingham UDP which states that proposals should not cause harm to residential amenity in terms of noise and disturbance; proposals are best located in large detached properties set within their own grounds; account will be taken of the cumulative impact of hostels, care homes, HMOs, flats and other non-residential uses on the character and appearance of the area; highway safety and free flow of traffic; and proposals should provide satisfactory outdoor amenity space.
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6.7. The NPPF advises that development should create safe and accessible environments where crime and disorder and the fear of crime do not undermine quality of life and community cohesion.
6.8. The NPPG advises that the prevention of crime and the enhancement of safety are
matters that local planning authorities should take into consideration. Proposals should design out crime and the opportunities for crime.
6.9. The objectives of the emerging Birmingham Development Plan is to develop
Birmingham as a City of sustainable neighbourhoods that are safe, diverse and inclusive with locally distinctive character. Across the City all development must be well-designed, accessible and safe.
6.10. Development Involving Public Houses SPG indicates there is a desire to retain
leisure/community use on all or part of redeveloped sites.
Principle 6.11. The NPPF advises that planning policies should be positive, promote competitive
town centre environments, set out policies for the management and growth of centres and pursue policies to support their viability and vitality. The Birmingham UDP advises that proposals for hostels are best located in large detached properties set within their own ground proposals and should not cause harm to residential amenity in terms of noise and disturbance. In terms of the principle of the use the application building would be suitable as a hostel located within the Witton Road neighbourhood centre with good accessibility to local services and amenities. Furthermore the proposal would bring a large vacant building back into use and would make efficient use of land and is acceptable in principle in line with the Birmingham UDP and the NPPF.
6.12. The loss of the Aston Hotel PH to an alternative use would not adversely affect local amenity as other public houses are located within close proximity of the application site including the Witton Arms which is located approximately 55m to the north.
Crime and the Local Area
6.13. The Birmingham UDP advises that account will be taken of the cumulative impact of hostels, care homes, HMOs, flats and other non-residential uses on the character and appearance of the area. Notwithstanding the applicant stating that there are no other hostels in the local area I am aware that within a defined triangular area bounded by Birchfield Road (to the west), Witton Road and Aston Lane (to the north) there are 7 hostels in operation. The application site is located within the Witton neighbourhood centre with a broad range of national and independent retailers, hot food uses, professional services and residential uses. Taking into consideration the mixed use nature of the local area and that there is no clustering of the hostels I consider that a further hostel would not adversely affect the character and appearance of the area.
6.14. The NPPF advises that development should create safe and accessible environments where crime and disorder and the fear of crime do not undermine quality of life and community cohesion. West Midlands Police have commented that during the last 12 months the 7 hostels in the local area have generated approximately 200 calls to their service and resulted in between 25 – 30 offences (ranging from drug offences to theft and serious wounding). They consider that there appears to be a link between the residents (and their visitors) of these hostels and
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crime in the local area. West Midlands Police have strongly objected to the proposal and consider that there is an over-intensification of hostels in the area and cumulatively the proposed hostel would increase crime, anti-social behaviour and the fear of crime. On the basis of the evidence provided I concur and consider that there appears to be a demonstrable link between the existing hostels in the local area and crime levels in the local area. I therefore consider that a further hostel is likely to result in an increase in crime and disorder and would undermine the quality of life of residents and community cohesion in the local area contrary to national planning policy. Layout and Operation of Hostel
6.15. The NPPG advises that the prevention of crime and the enhancement of safety are matters that local planning authorities should take into consideration. Proposals should design out crime and the opportunities for crime. The submitted plans show 9 separate entrance/exit points into the site and the building itself. There is no reception area which residents or visitors would report to. This would mean that visitors and residents could access large areas of the building undetected or without passing through a controlled reception area. The number of entrance/exit points would allow non residents to enter/exit the building without detection. I therefore consider that the vulnerability of the building would make residents particularly vulnerable to criminal and anti-social behaviour. The proposal fails to design out crime and the opportunities for crime contrary to national planning policy. The applicant has advised that access could be controlled with digital coded locks. West Midlands Police however consider that this type of control is not suitable as it would not allow monitoring of residents and visitors by staff, furthermore codes could be passed on to visitors and offenders who could access the building at will.
6.16. The applicant has advised that vulnerable women who have suffered from instances of domestic abuse would be located in the annexe independent of the main building. West Midlands Police strongly object to housing this vulnerable group in this section of the site. I concur and consider it would not be inappropriate to house vulnerable females in a detached and isolated section of the site, devoid of any natural or other surveillance and only accessible from external areas. This proposal would fail to provide a safe environment for residents.
6.17. The use of an approved security firm and internal and external CCTV are positive
steps to ensure effective management of the hostel. However West Midlands Police have commented that no information has been provided in relation to security arrangements, staff arrangements and the CCTV system including the number and location of cameras. Taking into account the vulnerable nature of the occupiers and the objections received by West Midlands Police I consider that this information should be considered at planning application stage. It would not be appropriate to condition such information. Notwithstanding this, I consider the reliance on technological surveillance to address substantial shortfalls in the layout of the hostel is unlikely to address overall crime and safety concerns outlined earlier.
6.18. The applicant has advised that there would be 1 member of staff during the day and
1 during the evening with a manager visiting for a few hours a day on alternating days. I am not satisfied that 1 member of staff would be able to effectively manage 41 persons on site particularly in the event of staff becoming aware of criminal or other serious instances taking place at the hostel. It is also unclear whether this member of staff would be responsible for training or for sign posting residents to training, education and employment services.
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6.19. The applicant has indicated that the hostel would cater for homeless males and females across a broad age range and vulnerable females. West Midlands Police have raised concerns that no information has been provided in relation to how the communal areas would be managed to ensure that vulnerable groups are provided with the best possible care during their stay at the hostel.
6.20. As proposed I am not satisfied that due consideration has been given to how access
to the building would be controlled, how the internal spaces and the clients would be managed and the type of support to be provided to ensure that vulnerable individuals are integrated into the community.
Noise and Disturbance
6.21. Concerns have been received that residents of the hostel would be affected by noise and disturbance associated with Villa Park football stadium. The stadium is located 100m south of the application and during the football season tens of thousands of fans pass in front the application site on match days. It is noted that the application site is located on a busy road junction. Regulatory Services do not object to the proposal. I therefore consider a reason for refusal on noise and disturbance could not be sustained but such issues could be mitigated through appropriate noise attenuation conditions.
6.22. Concerns have been received that the proposal would increase traffic in the local area. Transportation Officers do not object to the proposal subject to conditions. I concur and consider that the proposal would not adversely affect highway safety or the free flow of traffic. I consider that occupiers are unlikely to own a vehicle therefore the proposal is unlikely to generate significant parking demand. The applicant is proposing 3 staff spaces which I consider appropriate.
6.23. The proposed areas of landscaping are acceptable and would provide a green buffer to break up hardstanding and would improve the setting the building.
6.24. The demolition of the freestanding toilet is block is acceptable and its loss would not affect the appearance of the building or the visual amenity of the local area.
6.25. Property values is not a material planning consideration and has not been taken into consideration in determination of this application.
7. Conclusion 7.1. The proposal, in land use planning terms, would bring a vacant building in a
sustainable neighbourhood centre back into use. I acknowledge that evidence provided by West Midlands Police which indicates a link between hostels and crime in the local area. I therefore consider that the benefits of the use are in this instance are outweighed by the likelihood of crime and disorder and an increase in the fear of crime. The proposal would not constitute sustainable development as it would not provide a high quality safe environment or reflect the community’s needs and support its health, social and cultural well-being contrary to local and national planning policy.
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8.1. That planning permission is refused. Reason for Refusal 1 The proposed hostel would fail to provide a safe environment for future occupiers and
is likely result in increased crime and disorder and the fear of crime undermining the quality of life for occupiers and the local community. The proposal would therefore conflict with policies 3.8 and 3.10 of the Birmingham Unitary Development Plan and the National Planning Policy Framework.
Case Officer: Bhupinder Thandi
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Photograph 1 – Aston Hotel
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Photograph 2 – Rear area and annexe
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This map is reproduced from the Ordnance Survey Material with the permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of the Controller of Her Majesty's Stationery Office © Crown Copyright. Unauthorised reproduction infringes Crown Copyright and may lead to prosecution or civil proceedings. Birmingham City Council. Licence No.100021326, 2010