A MULTI-storey carpark and shops plan on a site in Sandwell have been refused on the grounds that parking was too “excessive”.

The ambitious £80m scheme to bring shops, bars, 201 apartments and office space on land off London Street and Cranford Street – next to where the new super hospital is being built – was first unveiled in 2019.

The scheme aimed to create a 1,323 space multi-storey car park over 10 floors to ease parking congestion at the Midland Metropolitan University Hospital.

The ground floor was proposed for mixed-retail parking, while 107 spaces were designed for electric vehicle charging and 94 for disabled bays.

But objections were raised over the “excessive amount of parking provision proposed”.

The application was previously considered at the planning committee meeting on May 11, with councillors welcoming the office and shops shops proposed, but it was deferred ‘pending further discussions relating to a sustainable parking provision’.

The application was then deferred a second time by councillors on September 15 for a ‘site visit’ to put concerns at ease for planning committee members.

The transport planning and highway departments at Sandwell Council objected that the proposal would encourage the use of cars and give rise to “congestion and resultant unacceptable impacts on highway safety”, which would go against national and local planning policy, aimed at promoting sustainable travel.

The department was also concerned about ‘fly parking’, and suggested new double yellow lines, double red lines on Grove Lane, limited waiting, or residential parking permits, will mitigate this.

Metropolitan Holdings, the applicant, suggested the car park would not in itself be a “traffic generator” and trips to the car park would already be on the highway infrastructure.

They cited other hospitals, such as Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Sandwell General and City Hospital, reported to have bad parking, to justify the level of spaces needed at the car park.

They had ‘compromised’ with the council by only allowing the ground floor and up to six storeys for car park usage. If parking issues in the area occurred, they would then open up the other floors.

But the department argued there was no “under-provision of parking at the hospital site” and noted that Midlands Metropolitan University Hospital will have fewer beds to provide high care to the local population, with the most widely used services, such as the urgent care centre, or the outpatient centre, staying at Sandwell General and City Hospital.

But according to the planning report circulated at the planning committee meeting, Metropolitan Holdings continued to argue the ultimate destination for the multi-storey car park was the Midlands Metropolitan University Hospital.

Councillor Ellen Fenton, Labour representative for Bristnall ward, said it was a ‘shame’ the application fell through.

She said: “We need regeneration in the area, for more schools, more housing, more shops.

“It is really unusual that this has been refused on the grounds of too much parking.”

Councillor Peter Allen, Labour councillor for Great Bridge, questioned the amount of car parking proposed by Metropolitan Holdings said: “There is obviously a bee in the bonnet about having this car park.

“The authority doesn’t want it for a better word. Why are you so set that this is essential to the project that you are putting before us rather than one that would have car parks that would serve the accommodation and the commercial aspects of your property?

“It seems we’ve got a very large car park for a very small benefit to the community that are going to live and have their businesses there.”

Rob Wells, director at Williams Gallagher, a town planning consultancy who represented Metropolitan Holdings said: “Everyone knows what it's like to go to a hospital. The parking is generally considered to be problematic. Many hospitals have difficulty with parking around the local areas. There’s also positions whereby cars will have to travel around the area more to try and find a parking space.

“Nobody builds something for the sake of it, if we didn’t believe there was actually a need for this.”

Speaking after the meeting, Ismail Ahmad, managing director at Metropolitan Holdings, said: “I am very disappointed by this decision.

“I feel that the councillors did not take our evidence seriously, nor any of our rebuttals. I felt that Councillor Webb was reading off the planning application sheet.

“This was supposed to be an investment into the area. This planning application has been going on since May 2019, and we are now seriously considering taking this matter to the planning inspectorate and the secretary of state.”

The application was refused on an unanimous decision.