Words by Ed King
Birmingham City Council (BCC) have green lit plans for a 26 bay electric vehicle (EV) charging station on Tyburn Road, despite concerns from local residents and Gravelly Hill Councillor Mick Brown (Labour).
Approved subject to conditions on 1 November by BCC’s planning committee, the application for the demolition of the existing building and a change of use to the site – which previously housed a We Buy Any Car outlet – was first submitted to the Council in May this year by Metalcraft Developments Ltd.
The application further requested permission for the installation of two electricity substations, and ‘13 electric vehicle charging units, landscaping and associated works.’ It also identified that four of the bays would be ‘designated for disabled parking.’
But following widespread concerns from people who live and work near the location, several objections were registered with BCC before the closing date on 21 June – including eight letters from local residents, and four separate petitions against the development with a total of 130 signatures.
A public meeting to discuss the plans was also held on 9 October at St Chads Church Hall on Stoneyhurst Road, with the planning officer’s final report stating it was ‘attended by approximately 20 residents.’
Amongst the many issues raised was the potential danger to those both driving and walking past the site, situated on the corner of Tyburn Road and Wheelwright Road. In his official objection to the plans Cllr Brown claimed the proposed site had an ‘unsafe egress / access onto Wheelwright Road, which would be hazardous to vehicle and pedestrian safety.’
Further worries came from any potential anti-social behaviour at the strongly residential location, as the site would be in operation 24 hours a day, and the lack of amenities and public lighting to support those using the facility.
Air and light pollution were also flagged up with the planning committee, as were concerns over ‘increased traffic congestion’ in the surrounding area – already a busy throughfare in and out of the City Centre.
Amongst the eight letters of objection from local residents the risk of fire from EV cars and equipment used to charge them was also highlighted. Although others were quick to challenge this on social media, with several people citing more prevalent dangers from diesel and petrol run vehicles.
Returning their final report at the start of November, Birmingham City Council approved the proposed plans subject to conditions over design, appearance, residential amenity, and highway safety issues, which the developers would be asked to consider.
Addressing the environmental concerns raised the report further stated: ‘It is considered that the proposal would facilitate the growth of electric vehicle usage and greener travel methods. Therefore, in the broadest sense the application adheres to policy and is acceptable.’
In response to the Council’s decision to reject objections over the proposed development, Cllr Mick Brown told Erdington Local: “It is inspiring to work with residents from across Gravelly Hill committed to a more sustainable travel infrastructure; with the aim of making our neighbourhood a more pleasant places to move around as we work, live and play.
“While EV is key to achieving this, I am concerned that the sheer size of this site, with its proposed 26 chargers, is likely to encourage significantly more car usage in a residential area which sits between two major arterial routes into Birmingham (the A38 Tyburn Road and the A5127 Gravelly Hill); and already has above average numbers of vehicles on its roads.
“The roads adjoining the site are regularly used by children walking to school and pedestrians, often elderly or disabled, using the nearby shops; and it is important that any action taken on Thursday also reflects the priorities given to them as part of the Birmingham Transport Plan”.
Metalcraft Developments Ltd were given a three year timeframe in which to complete the project, meaning the proposed EV charging station would have to be delivered by November 2026.