Council accused of double standards over Market Hall site

Bromsgrove Advertiser: DOUBLE STANDARDS CLAIM: Barnt Green resident Malcolm Shine noticed no change of use permission was sought for the former market hall site.  Buy this photo BMM211404 Buy this photo DOUBLE STANDARDS CLAIM: Barnt Green resident Malcolm Shine noticed no change of use permission was sought for the former market hall site. Buy this photo BMM211404

BROMSGROVE District Council has been accused of double standards over the use of the Market Hall site.

After the hall was demolished in 2010 the site, off St John Street and Hanover Street, was used as a temporary car park. A year ago, a time team-style archaeology dig took place at the section of the car park where the former hall used to stand.

When the construction of the new-look High Street began earlier this year, the site transformed into a base for the work.

The site has become a storage site for equipment, and is likely to have been chosen for its close proximity to High Street.

The Town and Country Planning Order 1987 puts uses of land and buildings into various categories, and when a change of use takes place developers apply to the authority for planning permission.

However Barnt Green resident Malcolm Shine noticed no change of use - from retail to storage and distribution - went before the authority's planning committee for approval.

He said: "If any other developer was doing this I suspect that the council would require them to submit a planning application and not be allowed to start work until it was approved by the council’s planning committee.

"It would appear that either someone forgot to submit an application or the council chose to ignore planning requirements."

Mr Shine added that although it was a sensible use for the site, he felt as the local body responsible for implementing planning law, it was incumbent the council follow correct procedures and set an example.

Bromsgrove District Council's head of planning and regeneration, Ruth Bamford, said: "Having considered all the issues we have no concerns at this site.

“Of course if any person or organisation does something without the benefit of planning permission then we will take enforcement action if it is expedient to do so.

"In this case we are satisfied that the current temporary usage, as a base of operations for the major upgrade of the High Street, is acceptable in planning terms. As such it would not be in the public interest to pursue further.

“The current use will cease once the High Street is completed, and that land is earmarked for major redevelopment as a part of the regeneration of the town centre.”

• Meanwhile, Worcestershire County Council has provided an update on the High Street work.

A county county council spokesman said: "The Bromsgrove High Street works are still on track and still on budget.

"In addition, we have also been doing some improvements to the footway near to the Strand and Stratford Road."

The £2 million revamp is expected to be completed in mid-July.

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