Plans lodged to transform landmark Birmingham pub into community and education centre

The Cross Keys in 2023
-Credit: (Image: Google Street View)

A landmark pub in Erdington could be transformed into a community centre if plans are approved this week. The Cross Keys has faced an uncertain future since its closure in 2017, with previous proposals to turn it into a HMO and flats refused in the past.

Plans lodged by Erdington Islamic Foundation (EIF) to turn the pub into a “local community and education centre with ancillary prayer facility” have now been recommended for approval again. The EIF Facebook page said its vision was to “foster an outstanding community that inspires excellence in knowledge and awakens the spirit of service to others”.

If approved, the proposed development would not include “external alterations” to the fabric of the main building but there would be internal changes to the function of existing spaces. There would be two multi-use halls, toilets, a kitchen and store while on the first floor, there would be four classrooms, a meeting room, library, office and staff kitchen.

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A council officer’s report said 164 letters of support were received, as well as a petition with 701 signatures, which pointed to the potential social benefits and lack of community facilities in the area. But 38 objections were also received, in addition to a petition with 243 signatures, which noted issues such as the “loss of a public house” and “increased noise and public nuisance".

The report said the proposed community facilities would perform “social and community functions to mitigate the loss of the public house”. Moving on to residential amenity and concerns over noise, it continued: “The impact of the proposed use would be unlikely to be significantly greater than the baseline conditions for noise and disturbance which currently exist.

“Although early-morning and late evening prayers would take place during the summer, these would be attended by only small numbers of people". The proposals were previously lodged in 2022 and in April this year and were recommended for approval.

But the applications were withdrawn from those meetings following “third-party concerns” relating to highways impacts, raised on the day prior to the meetings. The report said the proposed development would not result in “significant harm” to the functioning of the local highways network as well as the area’s visual amenity; the residential amenity of surrounding occupiers; and the heritage assets within or in proximity of the site.

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It added the proposals would not result in an “adverse” impact on highways safety. “Significant weight is provided in favour of the application through its tangible public benefits, comprising the securing of a long-term community use for a vacant building of historic value,” it continued.

It recommended the plans for approval subject to conditions - including one which would limit hours of operation. The report added that a third party claimed a previously-proposed condition to restrict prayer within the site to the two multi-use halls was “unenforceable”.

A report from earlier this year said the condition would have helped "ensure the prayer function is not able to expand into the basement or upper storey rooms or become a dominant use without further authority from the council".

The condition has been removed from the recommendation in the new report, which stated: “The applicant has provided assurance only the two multi-use halls would be used for prayer.

The vacant Cross Keys pub in Erdington
The vacant Cross Keys pub in Erdington -Credit:Google Street View

“It is considered the small size of the upper floor rooms would prevent large numbers of people from using them for prayer. Notwithstanding this, even if the first floor were used during Friday prayers, it would be unlikely to be detrimental to highways safety or the residential amenity of surrounding occupiers.”

The planning application will be considered by the City Council ’s planning committee on Thursday, July 11.

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