Apartments scheme refused because of threat to Jaguar Land Rover supplier

How the apartment scheme would have looked

Plans for a new apartment scheme in Birmingham have been refused because the development could threaten the viability of a major supplier to Jaguar Land Rover.

Xian Developments had submitted proposals to demolish existing buildings on land fronting Lower Loveday Street, Summer Lane and Hanley Street, and redeveloping the site with a three-to-six storey building housing 148 apartments with 118 sqm of commercial space, a landscaped courtyard and basement parking.

The site is adjacent to a factory operated by DRB Engineering, which supplies metal pressings to the automotive sector and in addition to JLR, is also a supplier to Nissan, Toyota and Bentley. It also supplies the consumer electronics industry with clients including Xpelair, Valor Fires and Panasonic.

Xian had submitted a noise assessment survey in support of the new development, claiming measures could be incorporated into the design of the building to protect residents from the noise of a factory across the street from the site.

However, DRB Engineering had said it was concerned about the implications the scheme could have on its business.

The company acquired the engineering business three years ago as it needed additional capacity to meet increased demand from JLR.

The vehicle manufacturer had demanded proof from the firm that it had sufficient capacity to supply parts on a just-in-time basis. Effectively this meant that in order to be a Tier 1 supplier to the OEM it had to be capable of delivering parts on a 24/7 basis over the next 10 years so the vehicle production operation was not jeopardised.

The plant and equipment used in the manufacturing process was said to be large and would be very costly to move, ruling out any economic relocation to another site.

The 24/7 nature of the operation meant deliveries would continue around the clock, generating noise at unsociable hours.
In addition to the apartments, the new block would also feature communal facilities for residents including a reception/management suite, laundry, gym and working space/media room, although these would front onto Summer Lane rather than the factory.

The city’s planning committee said it had some sympathy with the developer, but the authority had a duty to protect existing businesses.

Councillors were told that should the apartments be built and work restrictions placed on the factory in order to protect the amenity of residents, then that could threaten the viability of the business.

With the council having a duty to support job creation and retention then jeopardising an existing business would be contrary to council policy.

Planning officers said they were confident that the grounds for refusal would stand up should there be any appeal.