Words by Adam Smith / Pics by Ed King
The campaign to stop the Cross Keys pub being turned into a hostel has been given a boost after top private school Highclare have formally objected to the controversial plan.
“Furious local parents and residents” have complained about the Fairfield Fox Ltd application to create a 15 bedroom hostel for homeless people, despite the building bordering a senior school and overlooking two nurseries.
Birmingham City Council is currently considering the application and should either reject or approve the plan by the end of September.
Independent senior school and sixth form Highclare borders the Cross Keys and normally has more than 200 children, whose parents pay £4,410 a term, on site.
Headmaster Dr Richard Luker told Erdington Local his school did not want to have a hostel as its neighbour.
Osbourne Nursery and Moonstone Children’s Day Centre are both overlooked by the proposed hostel, which could have a large turnover of guests as it will be a ‘stepping stone’ for homeless people before they get permanent accommodation.
Erdington Councillor Robert Alden is leading the campaign against the hostel.
He said: “This will be an absolute scandal if planning consent is given for this hostel which is surrounded by schools and nurseries.
“The amount of children walking past the hostel every day alone should be enough of a reason for this to be refused. The prospect of drug paraphernalia and needles on the street is another major worry.
“The building overlooks a nursery’s playground, borders another school and is opposite a children’s day centre – the developer should withdraw the application immediately.”
Cllr Alden fears if a hostel is approved then plans for a reinvigoration of the High Street could also be in danger.
He added: “The Cross Keys is surrounded by listed buildings, including Highclare School and the Abbey, the shops opposite are a heritage asset and it sits in the heart of historic Erdington; a hostel is wholly inappropriate.
“And the building is on the approach to Erdington Train Station, if it should become a blight then that effectively cuts off half of the town.”
Cllr Alden believes the application for a hostel is due to the loopholes in housing rules which creates massive profits for companies housing vulnerable people.
“There is a lot of money to be made through hostels and HMOs and Erdington has enough of these properties. Our opposition is not about stopping the homeless getting homes, Birmingham City Council has accommodation for the homeless, this is just totally the wrong place.”
Fairfield Fox Ltd revealed its plans for a hostel in a document submitted to the council, despite their pleas for it ‘to remain confidential’ details have been made public.
The document states: ‘There will be two full time and two part time staff. All occupants will be of low risk and requiring accommodation due to being homeless. This could be due to being evicted from previous accommodation or being unemployed.
‘The intention is to provide emergency housing and support to individuals and provides a stepping stone whilst more permanent accommodation is sought.’
Prospect Housing and Vanguard Direct will run the hostel on a rolling five year lease.
The Cross Keys’ public consultation closes on June 16 – to object email Faisal.Agha@birmingham.gov.uk quoting the application number: 2020/02902/PA