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Appeal: 'Extremely cramped' industrial estate flats refused

Aston / Shutterstock: 319187759

An inspector has refused retrospective permission for the conversion of an industrial/commercial building in Birmingham into 12 'very small' flats, noting that occupants' possessions were 'spread on the floor' due to lack of storage space.

AUTHORITYBirmingham City Council
PROCEDUREWritten submissions

The appeal concerned a flat-roofed building within an industrial estate in Aston, central Birmingham, comprising two storeys and a basement. It was described as a "commercial" building by the appellant, but the council described it as an industrial use.

The appellant sought retrospective permission, having converted the building into 12 flats. At the appeal stage, the appellant indicated in a letter that the building was being used as a "facility for vulnerable adults", with care and supervision provided. However, it also submitted other evidence which referred to the use as a hostel.

Inspector Mike Worden determined the appeal on the basis of the use described on the application form, which was residential flats under use class C3.

On his visit, Worden noted that the flats, each comprising a bedroom/sitting area, an en-suite bathroom, and some "kitchen facilities", had an internal floor area of between 12 and 14 square metres.

At less than half the minimum space standard for a one-bed flat - which is 37 square metres, the rooms were "extremely cramped", he commented. They had "little room for storage, cooking, or sitting", and occupants' possessions were "spread on the floor".

Turning to outlook and privacy, Worden noted that two of the flats' windows look out onto a solid brick wall, with a separation distance of only one metre. Others had windows at pavement level, allowing passersby to "look directly into the flats".

Worden was also concerned about the location of the development, noting the industrial uses surrounding the site. Industrial noise could harm the living conditions of occupants, he noted, which could in turn constrain the ability of nearby businesses to "expand and develop". The appellant had also failed to demonstrate a lack of demand for a new employment use of the building, contrary to local policy. 

The appellant also argued that the council "should revoke" a hazardous substance consent on a nearby property, which was preventing the scheme from being considered as permitted development. Worden was not persuaded; drawing the harm he had identified together, he dismissed the appeal.

The inspector’s report – case reference 3222566 – can be read here.

Image credit | Shutterstock




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