Barry Jackson Tower

The text of my letter objecting to Barry Jackson Tower proposals is below.

Our Ref: SM32144

20 March 2018

Dear Mr Nazir

Re: Barry Jackson Tower, Estone Walk, Birmingham. B6 5DP Application Ref: 2018/01292/PA

I am writing with regard to the above planning application and to put on the record in the strongest possible terms that I am opposed. I object to both the reversal of the decision to demolish the block and additionally to the change of use from flats (C3) to hostel accommodation (Sui Generis).

My objection covers four areas: lack of legally required consultation; the planning change from C3 to Sui-Generis; confusion over the planning consultation timescale and historic anti-social behaviour and crime.

1) Lack of consultation with regard to the decision not to demolish Barry Jackson tower. I submitted an FOI (740333) to the council to determine the extent to which you had consulted with local residents about such a massive change to their local community. The response was emphatic, "Local residents were not consulted about the decision not to demolish Barry Jackson Tower".

This FOI was submitted on 14 December but not replied to until 12 March, which is well outside the 20 working days legal limit for such responses. It is no coincidence that the FOI was not responded to until after the planning application had been submitted.

The Cabinet Office's Principles on consultation indicate the kind of situation when consultation may not be necessary:-  "There may be circumstances where formal consultation is not appropriate, for example, where the measure is necessary to deal with a court judgement or where adequate consultation has taken place at an earlier stage for minor or technical amendments to regulation or existing policy frameworks."

The decision to bring back into the housing stock a multi-storey tower block to house hundreds of people definitely does not come within the criteria set above.

In addition, the Local Government Association's guidance on when to consult says that the doctrine of legitimate expectation (common law) is applicable "where official guidance or policies imply a promise to act in a particular way".  In the case of Barry Jackson Tower there as a clear promise to act in a certain way that was then reversed. My residents legitimately expect a consultation on something which is due to impact on them to such an extent.

I would like to see the legal guidance which you relied upon in your decision to not consult local residents.

2. The change of use to hostel (Sui-Generis) is completely unacceptable. Cabinet members and council officers have repeatedly stated that this tower block would house "families". In a note from the council at the end of last year to residents the council officer states "You may have read in the local media that there are plans to turn Barry Jackson Tower into much needed temporary accommodation for families who have lost their homes. This letter explains the thinking behind this." If that were the case then there would surely be no need to ask for planning consent at all - at least not from class 3 to hostel accommodation (Sui-Generis). Before any meaningful consultation can occur the Council must clear up who it proposes will live in this accommodation. Many residents may well be under the illusion that this is to be used for homeless families. The planning application suggests something entirely different.

3. There has been complete chaos about the dates of the planning consultation. Some residents have been told the final date for responding is March 19th, others have been told 28th March. At the very least this consultation needs to be extended until the end of April because of this confusion.

4. Barry Jackson Tower has historically been a crime and anti-social behaviour hotspot.  This is the primary reason why local residents are so opposed to the reversal of the demolition decision - an opposition I share. On the evidence that we have Barry Jackson Tower would not be a suitable location to place vulnerable families or individuals.

Yours sincerely

Shabana Mahmood MP