Plans to convert a furniture and electronics store in a residential area of Wolverhampton into a car showroom have met with fierce opposition from local councils.
A motion to change the use of Ash Beds Direct at Glentworth Gardens, near Dunstall – which is part of the parish of St Peter – has been submitted to City Council by Miss Zahira Bibi.
However, the proposal has raised concerns among all three Labor councilors in the borough – Lynne Moran, Obaida Ahmed and Qaiser Azeem.
In her application, Ms. Bibi said: “I would like to convert the premises into a car dealership, which will have employees on site all the time. There is an entrance to the shop at the back big enough for cars to enter.
“I would use this entrance for cars to get into the showroom, while the front entrance would remain the same for customers.
“I’m just requesting a change of use, otherwise everything would stay the same. I would also tile the floor and paint the premises.”
In written correspondence with Planning Officer Stephen Alexander, Cllr Moran said: “As one of the councilors for the Parish of St Peter, I would like to submit my objection to this change of use application.
“Glentworth Gardens is a densely populated residential area with shops dotted around the entrance. I would be interested to know how successful the furniture store is since it is not a recognized store.
“The more general newspaper/grocery store will likely be appreciated by residents in Glentworth Gardens and a little beyond, but I can’t imagine those same residents seeing the need for a dealership in their midst.
“I note that the applicant says there will be no change to the existing shape of the building and that cars can enter the building from the back of the storefront.
“It’s important to know that residents live in the flats above the shops and I have no doubt they see the back of their homes as a place of security and a place to park their own cars.
“I’m appealing because of increased traffic in a residential area,” she added.
“We should take into account the fact that the same small community has the Council’s transit site very close by and we are aware that there is some concern about the impact in terms of traffic and noise.”
Cllr Ahmed said: “I would like to oppose this application – especially as it is in a residential area.
“Next to the place where this application is located, there is already an abandoned building causing overturning. A showroom suggests excess cars are added to the mix.
“A car dealership does not fit into the surrounding residential area. It will be another blow if the transit zone destroys so many trees and natural green space.”
Cllr Azeem added: “I would like to echo the thoughts expressed by my fellow councilors in relation to the Glentworth Gardens change of use planning application.
“My objection is that this could lead to increased traffic in a residential property.
In further written correspondence, local resident Mr Mohammed Jawed said: “I have reviewed the plans and identified a number of areas of concern that the application has not been particularly well thought out.
“This is completely inappropriate for the chosen location. The plans show that a maximum of ten motor vehicles can be exhibited in the planned car dealership.
“There is no confirmation in the application that the existing floor slab or flooring can actually support the weight of these display vehicles.
“I do not believe that the unit was designed and built to support the weight of ten parked automobiles in a relatively small interior space, nor was it designed to support such very heavy loads being driven across the ground even at very low speeds .
“The plans do not appear to show any detail for ramps or lowered curbs that would be required to allow vehicles to safely enter or exit the showroom.
“This aspect would need clarification as I am currently not aware that the unit currently has such vehicle boarding and disembarkation measures in place,” he added.
“Personally, I don’t see how the display vehicles can be parked without adequate clearance between vehicles parked side-by-side, or even between the vehicles and the three internal pillars that the plans intend to have in the unit.
“There is a risk that an accidental impact on these internal pillars could compromise the integrity of the building as the pillars can act as structural supports for the floor above.
“The internal pillars may need additional reinforcement to minimize the effects of an accidental vehicle impact,” Mr Jawed said.
The Council’s planning chiefs are due to decide on the application in the near future.