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A bit of background to the site in Church Hill where a 10-bed HMO is proposed. Have your say.

♬ Relaxing Japanese-style piano song inviting nostalgia – Akiko Akiyama

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In the age of social media people are extremely quick to judge, and to share their opinions, often without the background or facts. That’s why it is important to delve into the details of why there are plans for a 10-bed HMO (House of Mulitple Occupancy) being submitted for Tanhouse Lane in Church Hill.

The plans will be considered by Redditch Borough Council in due course, and you can view the full details of the application online. You can also leave a comment on the application itself, ‘for’, ‘against’ or ‘neutral’ on the proposals. These will be read by the Planning Committee.

The most important thing people need to know about the site is the historic issues relating to a lease back when it was a doctor’s surgery. In the 1980s a lease was agreed on the land to the tune of approximately £25,000 per year for 100 years. That’s right – the value of the lease was around £2,500,000 in the 1980s. This is quite incredible in itself, but was paid by the NHS at the time, so nobody batted an eyelid.

But then things changed. The NHS underwent changes and GP surgeries became their own thing. As a result the GPs at the surgery themselves were stuck with the bill. That was manageable when they were all practising but once the new Church Hill Centre was built and the doctors wanted to retire things got complicated.

The doctors, in their retirement and having given decades of service to the people of Church Hill, were stuck with the bill for the lease and an empty building that nobody could use. Over time things would get worse, the building would decay, and so something needed to be done – they needed to sell up.

However, anyone who took a look at the details would be immediately put off by the costs of the lease. Not just that but the legal costs of having a covenant lifted that said the land could only be used for medical purposes.

Finally, after years of the building sitting empty, a developer comes along who’s willing to take on the site – but the problem is, with something like 50-60 years left on the lease the developer has to clear around £1,500,000 from the site just to break even. That’s right, he’s got to make some serious money just to break even – let alone make any profit.

That’s why we see an application for a 10-bed house today. Is it ideal to put a house between where the medical centre was and the church? No, it’s not ideal, but we don’t live in an ideal world – we live in one where it was a straight up choice between doing something on this site that would generate money, or doing nothing and leaving the medical centre there to rot, attracting vermin, anti-social behaviour and drug dealing. The only way to make the serious money needed to overcome the land lease issues is housing – nothing in the market today makes money quite like it.

I hope this blog post explains things in a bit more detail so people can understand the reasons why we have this application for consideration.

I have an open mind in regards to the application, understanding the commercial background, the need for housing and the legal right for developers to develop land. I balance this against some serious concerns I have about the lack of car parking provision, the impact on the environment, noise impacts, and so on. It will be for the Planning Committee to weigh up these and many other factors and I wish them well in their work.

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