A planning row over a garden storage building in Solihull – branded a “blooming posh shed” – has triggered a frenzy of debate.
Borough councillors had last week refused permission to retain and extend the brick outbuilding in Longmore Road, Shirley, having condemned breaches of planning rules and likened it to a bungalow.
The council is yet to confirm the next steps in terms of enforcement action following the committee’s decision – which could pave the way for a demand that the building is pulled down.
The recent outcry has divided opinion among readers, with criticism of the building project itself, local authorities and the way the planning process worked.
Several made reference to the fact that the structure had been described as “a rear storage shed” in the application.
“A garden shed … with brick & concrete block walls with 3 or 4 inches of insulation, tiled pitch roof, a patio, table & chairs. The lawnmower is going to be living a life of luxury,” said one.
Several welcomed the council’s decision, with one citing the impact of the development on the area and saying simply “it should be demolished.”
Others were more sympathetic, arguing that people should have freedom to build on their own land.
“Who is it actually hurting? No one!”
Others were critical of local councils’ handling of planning policy, arguing that decisions often seemed to conflict.
“It’s amazing what councillors think is an eyesore and must be demolished and what is attractive and can stay,” said one resident.
“Some loft extensions around Birmingham look no better than a rabbit hutch attached to the roof but the councillors appear to love them.”
While some were very cynical about the national planning process, arguing it lacked teeth or the scales were tipped too heavily in favour of development.
“The builder of this shed/bungalow will probably appeal and get the councillors’ objections overruled regardless of its impact on the surrounding area,” said one.
“Local government in England is a farce, and has been continuously denuded of power over issues such as this, for sometime now.
“No wonder hardly anyone bothers to vote in local elections – it doesn’t matter who is your councillor and which party is in control of the council.”
The debate comes hard on the heels of a separate clash over a building project to the rear of a street in Balsall Common, where residents again complained they would be left staring at a brick wall.
That scheme, by contrast, had been given the green light last year.
Although that differed in that the planning application was approved in advance, whereas the Shirley building had not received permission and was “substantially complete” before reaching committee.
Developers had maintained the building left “ample” space between the boundaries of the garden area to the rear of the Longmore Nursing Home and complied with building regulations.
Borough councillors had bristled at recommendations from their own officers to approve it, on the basis that it would “not result in unacceptable impact”.
Cllr Diana Holl-Allen (Con, Knowle) said: “I’m a bit appalled at the decision we’ve been asked to make.”
The applicant, who did not speak at the meeting, has been contacted for comment.
No-one answered the door when the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) visited yesterday, although there were signs of building activity with a skip and bricks on the front drive.
At last week’s meeting, the council had voted unanimously to refuse permission, although the final wording of the reasons was due to be signed-off by the chairman and vice-chairman afterwards.
Cllr Karen Grinsell (Con, Shirley East), who was among those to object, welcomed the decision to reject what she branded a “blooming posh shed.”
“We will have to wait and see if they appeal,” she said, noting that there was a 14 day window.
It’s understood a decision on enforcement will also follow shortly, although this process could be disrupted should the council decision go to the Planning Inspectorate.