CONTROVERSIAL plans for a new Domino’s Pizza takeaway in Balsall Common have been approved despite more than 165 letters of opposition.
The application from consultancy firm Pegasus Group to use 209 Station Road for the new takeaway was given the green light at Solihull council’s planning committee last night (August 8).
The unit is positioned on the village’s residential shopping parade and was formerly used as a florist.
Residents and several councillors are concerned there are already too many fast food outlets in the area.
The property itself is next to a fish and chip shop while there are also Chinese and Indian takeaways in the vicinity.
Balsall Parish Council was among those to formally object to the proposal on the grounds the new development would disturb residential properties.
It also said units should be retained for convenience stores such as grocers and butchers.
The council’s planning officers recommended the plan for approval saying the arguments for economic growth outweigh the negative effects.
A local resident, Dr Michael Watkinson, said: “Why on earth would we in the village want another takeaway facility? We are saturated with them.
“We need different types of shops: we need a greengrocers; a bakery; we need a diverse development in the village.”
Councillors did refer to planning guidance which states there should be no more than 10 per cent hot food takeaways in the make up of the village centre.
But head of development management, James Carpenter, said the takeaway would take the percentage to only 10.8 per cent.
And therefore he said it would not have a harmful impact and did not represent a ‘high concentration of use’.
He later added it would be supporting economic growth and creating jobs.
Many councillors said they were sympathetic to residents’ concerns but the economic arguments for placing the new restaurant in a unit unused since Easter were overwhelming.
Councillor Peter Hogarth said: “There are very few people prepared to take up units. Costs are high – rents and rates are high.
“I’m not keen on it but I fear I’ve got to live in the real world and there are major problems on our high streets with regards to retail.
“I think it’s better to let a shop which will be a presentable unit – clean and tidy – than having an empty shop which could get vandalised and boarded up.
“That doesn’t do a high street any good at all.”
But Coun Jim Ryan opposed the application on the grounds it will be nearby to schools and that the wishes of residents should be respected.
He said: “I believe the balance is over-tipped in Balsall Common when you look at the number of takeaways.
“We have an ample amount of fastfood takeaways. Why continuously add to them? Where’s the stop? We shouldn’t throw the towel in, we should say enough is enough.
“We should protect the environment within the local setting of shops so it doesn’t become dominant for fast food takeaways.
“I think we have got a duty to the local residents to do that.”