hnhimageIf you’re not currently up to speed with the Milford Place planning debacle and the potential threat to the Hare and Hounds in Kings Heath, then I recommend you give this post a read on the excellent Radio To Go blog. Building a two bedroom apartment over an alleyway, 18m away from one of the most vibrant live music venues in the city is obviously a daft idea and it was encouraging to see common sense prevail at the planning committee at the end of last year, when the application was unceremoniously thrown out. No doubt the hundreds of objections from residents, the concerns of local councillors and the constituency MP, as well as the petition signed by 3,000 people all helped to focus the committee members’ minds. And we’re all (surely?) well aware of the problems that were caused in the past to music venues such as the Fiddle and Bone, The Spotted Dog and The Rainbow as a result of new build flats and subsequent noise abatement orders.

It only took a few weeks however for the Milford Place planning application to come back, with a report this time suggesting that the committee’s previous decision may not be defensible at appeal and that ‘costs’ could be awarded against the council. Members were ‘respectfully invited’ to consider the application again. They did, and this time it was passed. Further, the city council’s decision document makes it very clear that there is NO third party right of appeal.

No one wants the city council to lose on appeal and to have to pay costs to a developer because of a failure to take account of the law when making a planning decision. But was there really nothing that the council could have done in this situation? If an application goes in for housing next door to a late opening, busy, industrial premises would the potential disruption to residents not be sufficient grounds for refusal?

The Hare and Hounds, of course, does not stand in isolation on Kings Heath High Street and it already has neighbours that it has to take into account, however giving planning permission for a new flat just 18m away just doesn’t make sense. And should there be any objections to noise as a result of this new application then it’s absolutely essential that Regulatory Services take into consideration the fact that the Hare and Hounds was there first. I also hope they remember that plenty of people warned them that this was the wrong place to build a flat.