Plans for young persons' centre at Edgbaston home
Residents who claimed victory when plans to build a fine dining restaurant in a leafy Birmingham suburb were dropped have been told a centre for vulnerable youths could be opened on the same site.
A planning application was submitted to transform an empty house on Church Road, Edgbaston, into a centre for disadvantaged youngsters who have been homeless.
The plans, submitted by charity Depaul Trust, has been heavily criticised by Councillor Deirdre Alden.
The Tory prospective candidate for Edgbaston says the centre is "wholly inappropriate" because of the close proximity to a school and old people’s home.
The application comes a year after residents successfully convinced planners to reject plans to turn the large Victorian house into an up-market restaurant.
Owners Calthorpe Estates had lined up a Michelin-star chef to run the restaurant after becoming frustrated at not being able to sell the property as a house.
Residents from nearby Carpenter Road launched a campaign against the proposals, claiming that the property should remain residential to ensure it remains in keeping with its surroundings.
They argued a restaurant would be noisy and unsuitable in a residential area, and Coun Alden said although they were in favour of attracting a second Michelin-star restaurant to Edgbaston, they did not want one in that location.
The Tory councillor criticised the latest planning application and said Calthorpe Estates had appeared to have "annoyed everybody" with the plans.
"I honestly don’t know what they were thinking of," she said. "I don’t want to see any further encroachment of the commercial district into the residential area in Edgbaston.
"After the restaurant application was turned down, I hoped Calthorpe would seriously market the property as a family residence.
"It is a very attractive house both inside and out, and it is on the corner of Carpenter Road where the houses command prices in the region of a million pounds.
"If 7 Church Road was marketed at an attractive price to take into account the fact that it is over the railway tunnel, I believe it would sell.
"I am told that one of the properties at Hallfield School opposite is also over the tunnel and the occupants have no problems with it."
She added: "The suggestion of using the property to house formerly homeless people some of whom may be ex-offenders seems wholly inappropriate, given that the building is directly opposite a school which takes primary age pupils, and right beside an elderly person’s sheltered development.
"The vast majority of local residents are unhappy about this, and I can’t imagine the business properties in Calthorpe Road would be much in favour either."
Peter Hannah-Smith, the Depaul Trust regional manager, said although there had been objections to the plans, the organisation hoped the Edgbaston community would "embrace" the young people and "value the work of Depaul Trust."
Explaining the work the centre would carry out if the application was approved, he said: "We offer homeless and disadvantaged people the opportunity to fulfil their potential and move towards an independent and positive future by providing a range of interventions such as further education and job opportunities.
"Seven Church Road will provide an aspirational location for those young people who have reached a number of milestones set down by the Trust, where they will be empowered to take on the responsibility of living a more independent life as they receive further education and training before entering employment and finally moving to a single home of their own.
"We welcome the opportunity of working closely with the local community in Edgbaston and hope that they will embrace the efforts of these young people and value the work of Depaul Trust and the positive contribution it makes to local communities."
Calthorpe Estates was last night unavailable for comment.