Council waves through ‘car crash’ extension to city temple
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.
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