Luxury Edgbaston student block branded a ‘monstrosity’

The proposal included plans for free breakfasts for students and gas and electric charges included in the rent

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A proposed luxury student apartment block next door to the Bristol Road McDonald’s was branded ‘a monstrosity’ as it had its planning application unanimously refused. The block would’ve given students free breakfast on weekdays and utility bills included in the rent if approved.

Local leaders and residents were outraged at the proposal, which was further expressed at Thursday’s Birmingham City Council Planning Committee meeting. Damage to the Edgbaston Conservation Area, a lack of demand for student accommodation in the area, and the scale of the development were the council’s main concerns.

Luxury student block plans for the Bristol Road, next to McDonaldsLuxury student block plans for the Bristol Road, next to McDonalds
Luxury student block plans for the Bristol Road, next to McDonalds

What did councillors say about the plans in their own words?

Cllr Matt Bennett of Edgbaston led the criticism of the plans. He said: “The impact that this, I have to say, monstrosity of a building is going to have on Edgbaston Conservation Area is quite significant. It would be entirely out of keeping with the conservation area and completely disproportionate to the needs of the area.

“We also object to the lack of parking. I can tell you from representing Edgbaston ward, students do own cars and will be parking them in the streets surrounding this development.”

Plans for luxury student accommodation on the Bristol RoadPlans for luxury student accommodation on the Bristol Road
Plans for luxury student accommodation on the Bristol Road

Which students would have lived in the accommodation?

A mixture of students from the University of Birmingham, Birmingham City University, Newman University, Aston University, and University College Birmingham would have inhabited the block. A 2020 report indicates that over 7,000 full-time students will require accommodation in Birmingham over the next five years, compared to the currently predicted bedspaces of 5,619.

The 26-storey tower would’ve contained 627 bedspaces and an on-site gym, cinema room, GP, communal dining area and free bike hire.

But Cllr Bennett warned that if the new block were approved, it would be applying for a change of use away from student accommodation further down the line due to lack of demand.

Birmingham City Council planning meetingBirmingham City Council planning meeting
Birmingham City Council planning meeting

What did the University of Birmingham say about the proposal?

Furthermore, the University of Birmingham had commented on the proposal, saying that the location is ‘not desirable’ for their students. Councillors agreed they were ‘unconvinced’ that there is sufficient demand for a development of this kind in the area.

A representative of the application was at the meeting and said the proposal given to councillors was the result of ‘four years of hard work’, and that this development would prevent more family homes from being ‘carved up’ into HMOs.

But his argument was not enough to convince the planning committee, who voted unanimously to refuse the application.

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