Listen up - This Street says NO!

A whole street has joined the latest protest about uncontrolled development and illegal building in a Birmingham residential area.

Steve McCabe MP, who says his Selly Oak constituency is being plagued by rogue landlords and cowboy builders, joined local Billesley Councillor Phil Davis to receive a petition with over 300 signatures from local people protesting about an extension which will destroy the home of Mr and Mrs White at 59 The Hurst, Billesley.

Last year residents couldn’t believe their eyes when building work which had no permission commenced on the property next door. In June 2013, three months after the building commenced and the first complaints were received, the Planning and Development Committee agreed on a split decision to allow the developer who doesn’t even live at the property to add three extensions.

It’s being built so close to the neighbouring property that the eves of the extension are now resting on the guttering of Mr and Mrs White’s home, rendering it utterly useless. Mr White has been advised that it will be impossible for him to get a builder to carry out any roof maintenance as the extension makes it impossible to safely erect scaffolding to gain access to the roof.

Steve McCabe and Cllr Davis are backing the demands of local residents that the council must act urgently to enforce all conditions supposed to protect the White’s property and take action for this flagrant breach of the rules. The council claim they are investigating the matter.

Cllr Davis said, “I have been working with Mr and Mrs White since the illegal building worked started last April. I am dismayed that this problem hasn’t been resolved. I’m calling on the Planning Department to take firmer action to ensure that innocent residents do not suffer at the hands of developers who seem tothink the rules don’t apply to them.”

There has been an epidemic of planning problems in Selly Oak constituency in the last year with property companies and individual landlords extending family homes, sometimes adding as many as three or four bedrooms at a time. The council has proposed an Article 4 Direction to limit the number of Houses in Multiple Occupation but has inexplicably excluded the core of Selly Oak because officers believe too much damage has already been done there.

There are now disputes about builders and developments all over Selly Oak constituency with complaints received from Gristhorpe Road, Langleys Road, Hubert Road, Brandwood and The Hurst in Billesley.

Steve McCabe said, “Not only has this monstrosity been built without planning permission and the culprit rewarded with retrospective approval but the meagre conditions attached to it have been ignored. It seems inconceivable that any competent planning officer could recommend this to councillors.

“I’m sick of seeing my constituents’ lives and homes destroyed by rogue landlords and cowboy builders who simply ignore the law. The Planning Department needs to get a grip and start enforcing conditions and taking action and the government needs to realise what a nightmare its decision to increase permitted development and deregulate building inspectors has created for ordinary families. I simply don’t accept that planning officers are incapable of enforcing the rules. We know it is done in other authorities why can’t we have the same approach here?”

Mr and Mrs White said they were grateful for the support of their neighbours in what had always been a strong, little community but extremely disappointed that more hasn’t been done to stop the development which comes within a fraction of their home.  “We haven’t done anything wrong, yet we feel that our legitimate complaints are not being treated seriously.”

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