Councilors slam plans for huge retirement home – ‘not the right type of building for Sutton Coldfield’


Plans for a huge development of care homes in the center of Sutton Coldfield are seen as ‘considerable overdevelopment’ of the site and ‘not the right type of building’ for the town according to local councilors. McCarthy & Stone has teamed up with Anchor, a non-profit care home provider, offering to turn the former vacant Royal Works site off Coleshill Street into a 137-unit complex.

The site would be divided into 85 apartments available at “affordable rent” from Anchor, while McCarthy & Stone would offer 52 apartments for sale at market prices to people aged 60 and over. As well as the houses, the L-shaped block would also have a large living room for residents, with a small tea bar, a guest bedroom and storage for buggies and bins on the McCarthy & Stone side.

While the Anchor part would include a bistro and a lounge offering hot meals, a kitchen, beauty and hairdressing salons, a rest room, an activity room, a wellness room, a guest suite , stores for strollers, archives and maintenance. It would see the derelict land turned into houses, but concerns were raised over the initial plans, leading to the submission of a revised plan, reducing the height of the building by one storey.

Read more: Revised plan for new community and retreat complex submitted

However, the revised plan came under fire during a meeting of Royal Sutton Coldfield City Council’s planning committee on Tuesday May 3. The new plan was assessed by City Council planning advisers Andrew Tucker and Keith Neil-Smith who said that even one floor down, it was still too big.

They said the building’s design was not appropriate for the suburban setting. It would be too dense, with too many houses crammed together and given the slope of the land, its height would pose a particular problem on the east side.

Verified views of the development which show the proposed building superimposed on the street scene at Coleshill Road and Rectory Road, showed less impact from the latter, but the building would be clearly visible from the former, which included residential houses. But councilors were asked to request another view of Coleshill Street where the entrance to the site would be and where it should be most visible.

A visually verified image of what the proposed McCarthy & Stone and Anchor retirement complex will look like on the former Royal Works site from Coleshill Road

Experts said: “The extent of the proposed development involves a combination of very large building footprints which, together with the uninterrupted scale and repetitive architectural treatment of the buildings, give the impression that they should be within a framework more urban rather than an area that is lower density and more suburban in nature with relatively small buildings set in generously sized plots.

“The building cover also compromises the site layout with relatively little usable amenity space around the edges of the buildings due to the proximity of the boundary and the combined shadow effects of the buildings and trees on the perimeters. of the site. These trees should be retained as much as possible.”

They added: ‘There is a considerable drop across the site from west to east and the sections of the site demonstrate that these relatively tall buildings are not necessarily towering over their neighbors in Coleshill Street and Rectory Road due to the terrain sloping that defines the site below. these neighboring streets. However, a disturbing contrast is shown to the AA section at Coleshill Road which shows a more authoritative impression confirmed by verified views also presented in supporting documentation.

Concerns were also raised about access to the site and the loss of parking on Coleshill Street. But the latter was declared “outside the scope of the request”.

And the development has also been criticized for its eco-credentials, while the building was expected to exceed energy standards there was ‘no rainwater harvesting, gray water recycling and geothermal heat pumps were rejected either for reasons of site constraint, or for reasons of viability”. Experts said the proposal amounted to “overdevelopment” of the site. But city councilors went even further.

Artist's impression of the originally proposed Anchor retirement apartment block, which has now been revised and lowered by one floor
Artist’s impression of the originally proposed Anchor retirement apartment block, which has now been revised and lowered by one floor

Cllr David Allan said: “Trinity is my patch, when we first objected to this we said the proposals were too big for the site. It’s too big for the site. They only managed to reduce the height by going out into the garden and down into the cellar. It’s just that the site isn’t big enough to support the number of homes this lot wants to build.

“The proposals are not in line with the surrounding buildings and the loss of amenity is detrimental. Older people will need to go to Sutton Park to keep fit. They should be very fit seniors. They have to knock down another floor and get back to the original footprint. This is the wrong building type for Sutton Coldfield.

Councilors agreed the revised plan represented “significant overdevelopment of the site” and urged a rethink. The application will now be considered by Birmingham City Council’s Planning Committee, which is expected to take into account the views of Council but is not bound by them.

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