Private tutor plans rejected over fears it would add to Bearwood’s traffic problems

St Mary's Road, Bearwood, Smethwick
-Credit: (Image: Google Maps)

A plan to convert a home into a private tuition centre has been rejected by the council. Sandwell Council has turned down a planning application by BMH Tutors to turn a Victorian home in St Mary’s Road, Bearwood, into a ‘private tuition academy’ for up to 20 children studying for their GCSEs and A-Levels.

The council’s planners said the proposed conversion did not include enough parking spaces and would add to existing traffic problems in Bearwood. “The proposals will significantly increase the number of vehicles associated with the property,” the council’s planners said in a report outlining the decision.

“It will be difficult for the applicant to control drop-offs/pick-ups and over time as pupil intake changes the modes of transport parents use may change and the number of pupils arriving in family groups arriving in one car could be higher. I do not believe that there is any existing capacity on-street due to the residential properties having no off-street parking provision an existing, church, nursery and dental practice. No evidence has been submitted in terms of parking surveys.”

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The home, opposite St Mary’s Church just off the busy Bearwood High Street, would have sat next to Bearwood Dental Care and the Play House Day Nursery. BMH Tutors already runs an academy in upmarket Handsworth Wood. A statement included with the application said the proposed conversion would not be “noise-generating” and would be comparable to a “small school library.”

“There is no need for parking for our students so there will be no occupying of parking spaces,” the statement said. “Given the good transport links, there will be minimal use of cars for transport. A decision was set to be made by the council’s planning committee, rather than officers, following an appeal by ward councillor Bob Piper who had concerns over the proposed level of parking.

“6 St Mary’s Road is a stretch of road off Bearwood’s main shopping centre which already has very heavy demand during the daytime for parking for the shops, as well as having a children’s day nursery and a dental surgery on the same piece of road,” he said in a request to Sandwell Council’s planning department. “This is causing constant problems with traffic and illegal parking.”

A plan to turn the two-and-a-half-storey Victorian home into a place of worship ‘for up to 20 people’ was turned down by Sandwell Council in 2010. An appeal to the government’s planning inspector, in a bid to get the decision overturned, was also refused. The council said the extra noise and ‘comings and goings’ from worshippers meant the plans could not be supported.

The ground floor of the St Mary’s Road ‘home’ had been converted into a large prayer room in the late 2000s, despite claims the building was only used as accommodation, with the council saying it was only made aware the work had taken place after several complaints from neighbours.

It was claimed the St Mary’s Road home had only been used for ‘silent meditation and prayer’ but neighbours said they had been disturbed by “chanting and bell ringing” by more than the 20 people it was claimed was the maximum capacity. “Loud” chants had also disturbed children at the adjoining nursery during sleep time.