Aneesa Ahmed reports on the Blue Line scheme, which is being funded by the University of Birmingham in collaboration with West Midlands Police. Five current UoB students are volunteering as Special Police ConstablesWritten by Aneesa Ahmed on 18th February 2019
University’s ‘Abhorrent’ Housing Plans Denied
Birmingham City Council has recently rejected the first stages of UoB’s plans to build new student accommodation on Pritchatts Road
The ‘abhorrent’ plans, according to Metchley Park Residents Association, were turned down last Thursday. The plan involves building ten new student housing blocks as well as a multi-storey car park on Pritchatts Road in Edgbaston. This would add to the 7,000 beds that the University owns independently, as well as working with other private letting companies such as Liberty Living.
The plans for the new accommodation consist of two main elements: firstly, townhouses are hoped to be added to the existing Pritchatts Park Village. These are planned to house up to 8-10 students, providing 230 beds in total. Tim Owen, General Manager for Student Accommodation, told Redbrick that the new build will ‘keep in design with the look and the feel of the village, and has been generally accepted by residents.’
However, it is the secondary elements to the plan, which hope to build townhouses on Pritchatts Road, away from Pritchatts Park Village, where the University has faced a backlash from Birmingham City Council and from Edgbaston residents.
Although Owen says the new 302-bed accommodation will ‘compliment the environment’ and ‘create a community that feels part of UoB’s campus,’ the Council have deferred the initial application.
“This situation is simply not sustainable and a different approach is required
In an online report from Birmingham City Council, Councillor Matt Bennett described Edgbaston as a ‘historic and picturesque suburb [that] is suffering from more and more developments, usually from the hospitals or the University, which are fundamentally changing its character for the worse.’
The Council has expressed particular concerns about parking, traffic, impact on local residents and impact to the scenery and conservation that would occur if the new accommodation was to be constructed. This has lead Councillor Bennett to conclude that ‘this situation is simply not sustainable and a different approach is required.’
The Edgbaston Residents Association commented that ‘noise and late nights completely change the character and family friendly environments [Edgbaston] residents have a right to expect.’ Owen, however, believes that the planning application does in fact answer ‘all the key questions.’
Although the University is ‘disappointed’ with the current stages of the plan, Owen told Redbrick that an extensive consultation has been carried out with Pritchatts Park local residents, the University’s hotel and local residents. This has led to a ‘re-design’ of the proposals.
A new 600-space carpark, also included in the new plans, would ‘not be adding extra car parking space’ as the University are ‘just replacing what’s been lost’ from recent projects such as the UoB Sport and Fitness Centre and the Green Heart, Owen told Redbrick.
“Everything we do is designed with student experience in mind
Despite this initial rejection from Birmingham City Council, Owen still strongly believes in the plans that have been put forward.
Although a price has not been set by the University in terms of the rent of the proposed accommodation, Owen states that ‘we’re not aiming at the highest price possible’ and will be ‘really sensitive to what students can afford.’
Owen told Redbrick that a total of 98% of students want to live closer to campus, and the University ‘want to offer the best possible student experience.
‘Everything we do is designed with student experience in mind. Students and the community have lived alongside each other in harmony, so we’re not doing anything new, there’s nothing new, there’s nothing that’s changing the face of the area,’ Owen continues.
Birmingham City Council’s next meeting will take place next Thursday, which will confirm the final status of UoB’s plan.
After the decision has been made, the University will decide on its next ‘best course of action’ as they ‘believe very firmly that this application is a positive one both for the University, for our students, for the neighbourhood and for Birmingham as a whole.’