NEWS: Application for 10 bedroom HMO at old Royal Oak pub refused over fears of ‘erosion’ to local area

Words & pics by Ed King

An application to convert the old Royal Oak pub on Marsh Lane has been refused by Birmingham City Council (BCC) citing the potential ‘erosion’ of the local area in its final decision.

The application was made by Keey Homes Ltd, a property management company with a registered address in Exeter – that was only incorporated in December 2022.

In further response to the planning application, which sought to covert the once popular pub into a 10 bedroom HMO (house of multiple occupancy), BCC stated that ‘future occupiers of the proposed HMO would not be afforded a suitable and satisfactory standard of living’.

In the current proposal, registered with BCC on 12 July 2023, more than one of the 10 bedrooms would only have windows facing a neighbouring wall – at less than 12 times the distance required in Birmingham – leaving an ‘unsatisfactory standard of outlook and poor access to natural light’.

Further concerns were raised as none of the ‘external amenity space’ at the property would be ‘made available for occupiers’ – leaving potential residents often cooped up min their bedrooms.

The historical significance of the building was also raised, with the proposed demolition of a boundary wall and building extension on the current beer garden viewed by BCC as a ‘loss of features of historic value’.

Furthermore, the report goes on to identify that if the application was granted it would result in nearly a third (28%) of the surrounding residential properties – stretching 100m from the Royal Oak – would be given to HMOs and Exempt Accommodation.

It continues to state that a ten bedroom HMO ‘would result in an over-concentration of non-family residential uses in the area’ and any potential ‘public benefits’ would not ‘justify the further erosion of the surrounding area’s family residential character.’

In conclusion, the planning officers report found the proposed development ‘would fail to provide a satisfactory standard of residential accommodation’ and BCC refused the application.

The halting of another HMO in Erdington will come as a welcome relief to local residents who objected to the plans, with hundreds signing petitions from local elected officials to rally against the development.

On 22 June, Erdington Ward Cllr Robert Alden, and Leader of Birmingham Conservatives, launched an online petition against the proposed HMO – citing the ‘cumulative impact of HMOs in this area’ and many of the issues eventually identified by Birmingham City Council in their final notes as to why they refused the application.

On 26 June, Erdington MP Paulette Hamilton also launched an online petition against the development, further writing to the BCC Planning Committee to ‘express my strong opposition’ to the application – referencing a ‘clear… lack of consultation with residents’ and other community stakeholders.

On hearing the Council’s decision to refuse the application, Paulette Hamilton MP told Erdington Local: “It was fantastic to learn that Birmingham City Council have refused the planning application that would have converted the Royal Oak Pub into a 10-bed HMO. I know the decision came as a relief for many local people.

“I’m also proud to have led the campaign that resulted in this decision. We urged local people to submit their concerns and I’m glad that 398 concerned residents backed our petition.

“Today’s result was good, but I remain concerned about the number of HMOs in our community and will continue to represent the best interests of my constituents.”

Erdington Ward Councillor Robert Alden (Conservative) further told: “The refusal of this application is welcome news for our community and the right decision. Thank you to the hundreds of residents who signed my petition opposing the application and wrote to the Council objecting.

“This is again proof of the difference residents can make locally by standing up to the landlords who attempt to break up our community.

“This application was totally unsuitable and would have had a significant negative impact on the area had it been approved. I call on the Council to now reject the HMO application for 120 Gravelly Lane as well.”

But Richard Bates, who lives a short walk from the proposed development, summed up the resilience of local residents in their fight against HMOs, describing them as “a community that is tough as a royal oak.”

NEWS: Police investigation launched as three people suffer knife attack in Stockland Green

Words & pics by Ed King

West Midlands Police have launched an investigation after three people sustained knife injuries, following an attack in Stockland Green on the evening of Friday, 4 March.

The incident happened outside an address on Draycott Avenue at around 6pm, with police cordoning off Marsh Lane and redirecting traffic up Coniston Road.

A spokesperson for West Midland Police said:

“A 20-year-old man and a 17-year-old boy have serious injuries and are currently in hospital awaiting surgery. They are both under arrest. A 20-year-old woman sustained superficial injuries to her hand.

“All three people are known to one another.

“We understand that another man was potentially involved, but he left in a taxi before emergency services arrived. We’re working hard to find him.”

Local residents were told last night to go home and avoid back streets or alleyways, whilst the swift response form the police started investigating the crime with several officers and a police helicopter deployed.

Whilst the investigation was still “ongoing” last night, as police gathered information and scoured the area for CCTV footage of the attack and attackers, there is no perceived threat to public safety today – with those involved believed to be known to each other.

West Midlands Police added:

“A number of areas remain taped off today (Saturday) as specialist officers look for evidence.

“We’ve got lots of CCTV from the area and we’re in the process of watching through the footage to help us piece together exactly what happened.

“If you have any information about what happened, we’re keen to hear from you.

“Please drop us a message via Live Chat at 8am – midnight or call 101 anytime. To remain 100% anonymous call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. Tell them what you know, not who you are.

“Please quote log number 3535 of 04/03/2022.”

The investigation continues.

NEWS: Major incident “still ongoing” as parts of Marsh Lane blocked off by police

A major incident was “still ongoing” tonight, as police cordoned off parts of Marsh Lane from Coniston Road to past Draycott Avenue.

Shutting down the major throughfare, connecting Erdington to Stockland Green, traffic was being redirected up Coniston Road – with police tape completely blocking off entry to Marsh Lane until past Draycott Avenue, with the cul-de-sac also blocked of by police tape.

Pedestrians were being asked to stay on the other side of Marsh Lane, whilst officers kept anyone from entering the crime zone.

Several police cars and officers were at the scene on Marsh Lane, and whilst helpful to our reporter they were unable to give any information directly to the press – although they were able to tell us that the incident was “still ongoing” and they were still piecing the puzzle together themselves.

At one point, senior officers who had been gathered round the police tape blocking entry to Draycott Avenue jumped into an unmarked car and left the Marsh Lane scene.

One passer-by said he had heard there had been a stabbing, although this has not been confirmed by any official sources, and that he’d seen a police helicopter circling the Lyndhurst Estate earlier in the evening.

He also told our reporter other roads around Erdington had been blocked off by officers and police tape, although again this has not been confirmed.

Another local resident, who had been asking police at the scene for information, was advised they should go home and avoid using back streets or alleyways – raising further concerns there may be more trouble to follow this evening or a dangerous presence still at large on the streets.

Despite concerns for public safety, businesses trading in the area had not been asked to shut down or to warn customers – with Seavers Fish & Chips at the top of Marsh Lane serving people until their normal closing hours.

John from The Village Green Pub, on the corner of March Hill and Streetly Road, told Erdington Local:

“I didn’t know there had been an incident; no one has come in and warned us about anything. I might get a taxi home tonight though.”

Erdington Local has contacted both West Midlands Police and West Midlands Ambulance Service for more information but has not yet received any official response.

NEWS: Lisieux Trust closes Marsh Lane Disability Information and Resource Centre

Words & pics by Ed King

As businesses and community centres begin to reopen, Lisieux Trust has decided to keep its Marsh Lane based Disability Information and Resource Centre (DIRC) permanently closed.

Launching the Erdington based facility in 2006, the DIRC has “welcomed over 5,000 people through our doors,” – offering advice and guidance to people disabilities, as well as their families and carers.

Opening in 2006, the Marsh Lane Disability Information and Resource Centre was financed by £166,000 from the Big Lottery Fund.

But due to a lack of funding or financial support, the DIRC is shutting the doors for good – as the learning disability charity continue caring for the 21 residents and 28 tenants that live in their residential care homes and supported living accommodations across Erdington and Sutton Coldfield.

If we continue to use up our reserves, we risk threatening the quality of the other services we provide for people with learning disabilities,” explains Jess Alsop-Greenacre, CEO at Lisieux Trust, “which is not something we’re willing to gamble on. It’s in our absolute best interest to redirect these resources to maintain the high-quality residential care and supported living services that we provide.

The DIRC opened over 13 years ago, providing support services to people with disabilities and their families and carers.

Clients of the centre relied on staff and volunteers to provide information and advice about disability-related benefits, and support with form-filling, finances, and IT skills, amongst other services. This support helped to equip people with disabilities with the knowledge and confidence to live more independently.

But the closure of the Marsh Lane centre could leave a troubling gap in the social care network for disabled people across Erdington and Sutton Coldfield.

We know the closure of the centre might concern some of the clients who visit it regularly,” continues Jess Alsop-Greenacre. “We’re already living through worrying times, and we don’t wish to add any further stress to those already experiencing vulnerabilities. As such, we’ve put provisions in place to help signpost service users to other local organisations that can help.  

We would urge anyone who’s worried about this decision to get in touch with us, so we can help point them in the right direction.” 

To find out more about the Lisieux Trust, visit

For more direct information on the Marsh Lane based Disability Information and Resource Centre, click here to visit the site’s Facebook page.