Coun­cil waves through ‘car crash’ ex­ten­sion to city temple

Birmingham Post - - NEWS - Carl Jack­son Coun­cil Cor­re­spon­dent

AN unau­tho­rised ex­pan­sion to a Birm­ing­ham Hindu temple branded a ‘car crash’ by lo­cals has been al­lowed to stay.

Birm­ing­ham City Coun­cil ad­mit­ted the Shree Geeta Bhawan Mandir, in Heath­field Road, Handsworth, had a ‘com­pli­cated’ de­vel­op­ment his­tory which one mem­ber of the plan­ning com­mit­tee de­scribed as a ‘real Hor­licks’.

The is­sue sur­rounds a one-storey toi­let block and din­ing ex­ten­sion, a new car park, as well as the ‘change of use’ of part of the build­ing to be used as a kitchen and stor­age area.

Plan­ning per­mis­sion has been granted for the temple to ex­pand in re­cent years, although one ap­pli­ca­tion ex­pired in 2016.

But coun­cil of­fi­cers took en­force­ment ac­tion last year after con­cerns the build­ing work was not fol­low­ing orig­i­nal de­signs to the let­ter.

As a re­sult temple chiefs submitted a fur­ther ap­pli­ca­tion to reg­u­larise the scheme, which the plan­ning com­mit­tee ap­proved last week.

But speak­ing against it, Ashok Bhardwaj said: “The ac­tual build­ing has been built. Talk­ing to lo­cal peo­ple they were unaware of what was be­ing built. I can as­sure you it came as an aw­ful shock to a lot of them.”

He added: “I think crash.”

In re­sponse Ramesh Sethi dis­missed some res­i­dents’ spe­cific con­cerns around in­creased traf­fic, stat­ing the num­ber of wor­ship­pers would not in­crease. it’s been a car

He said: “My­self, the com­mit­tee and mem­bers of the temple re­quire the im­prove­ment to be made to the mod­ern age.”

Plan­ning com­mit­tee mem­bers were di­vided on the de­vel­op­ment.

Cllr Mau­reen Cor­nish said: “I am al­ways con­cerned when ret­ro­spec­tive ap­pli­ca­tions come be­fore us.

“Unau­tho­rised work is to­tally un­ac­cept­able. I think we as a plan­ning com­mit­tee have to be more force­ful in mak­ing sure peo­ple ap­ply­ing are to­tally and ut­terly aware of this. How­ever, this ap­pli­ca­tion will be an ad­van­tage.”

While Cllr Bob Beauchamp said: “This has been a real Hor­licks. There is the ret­ro­spec­tive el­e­ment which is un­for­giv­able al­most, there is no con­sid­er­a­tion to the trans­porta­tion prob­lems. I will take some con­vinc­ing that ev­ery­thing has gone to the plan­ning de­part­ment and been set­tled be­cause it is such as mish-mash that has taken place.”

He added: “We shouldn’t be al­low­ing this sort of thing to take place in the city, ‘hey ho’ we’ll build and see what they say, we’ve seen that so much in the past and I re­ally do ob­ject to it.”

The temple typ­i­cally ac­com­mo­dates up to 300 peo­ple ris­ing to 400 dur­ing one of the ten reli­gious fes­ti­vals cel­e­brated at the site through­out the year.

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The Shree Geeta Bhawan Mandir at Heath­field Road, in Handsworth, asked for ret­ro­spec­tive plan­ning per­mis­sion for a toi­let block, din­ing room, and a new car park

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