Steps taken to protect 'unique' street in Solihull

Steps taken to protect ‘unique’ street in Solihull

Campaigners have welcomed news that the council is to take a tighter grip on planning policy in one of Solihull’s oldest suburbs.

In future, residents in part of Olton’s conservation area will need to get permission to make more minor changes to their properties.

The new approach follows concerns that a series of alterations over time could permanently change St Bernards Road, known for its imposing homes from the 19th and early 20th century.

The move was approved by Cllr Andy Mackiewicz, cabinet member for climate change, planning and housing, this week.

St Bernards Road, in Olton

 

Local resident Ian Jamieson had argued firmly in favour of greater protection.

“We’ve got a road there that has withstood all the deprivations of the 1930s, it got through the Second World War, it’s gone through the hardships of the 50s and 60s when a lot of it was multi-let and it’s still there largely intact,” he told last night’s decision session.

“Unless it has legal protection for the specific bits you want to protect, [the conservation area] doesn’t count for anything.

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“So at the moment in St Bernards Road, you can’t chop a tree down, but you can chop your house up.”

Mr Jamieson was among those who had pushed for an Article 4 direction to remove certain permitted development rights – which ordinarily mean that minor changes can be made without a planning application.

Cllr Bob Grinsell (Con, Olton), who also spoke at the meeting, said there was widespread support locally.

  

“I have spoken to many of the residents in St Bernards Road personally, especially those who live in the heritage properties,” he said.

“And without doubt the majority of residents already comply with what this article would bring.”

Solihull Council House.
The issue has been investigated by Solihull Council following concerns by residents and ward councillors.

Cllr Glenis Slater, leader of Solihull’s Lib Dems, said she had been brought up in Olton and backed the move to preserve the character of “an absolutely unique” street.

“St Bernards Road was the road we all looked up to … I would hate to see anything happen, as has happened in some of the roads in the surrounding areas.”

 

Cllr Mackiewicz welcomed the fact the issue had been brought to the council’s attention and agreed officers should proceed with making the direction.

“I think it’s important to protect bits in our borough that are unique – from whatever period they’re from, whether it’s modern or whether it’s from Victorian times.

“Otherwise it soon will morph into the lowest common denominator, rather than having a place of interest.”

 

Olton conservation area is one of 20 specially designated zones around the borough, with others established in the likes of Berkswell, Castle Bromwich, Hampton-in-Arden and Solihull town centre.

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