Monday, March 17, 2008

The history of the tram depot front offices, 582 Moseley Road, Moseley

The tram depot site composes of two buildings: the tram sheds to the rear which are now used as a skateboarding/rock climbing centre and were originally used to house trams. The building to the front, which was the subject of the YouTube video by myself, which contained the administrative offices on the ground floor and a large open plan canteen on the first floor.

West Midlands Travel sold the entire site in the year 2000 to Modius Limited.

In 2003, the front tram offices were sold at auction to Safdar Zaman. Modius Limited retain ownership of the tram sheds.

Advertising Hoardings on the front
In 2001, Modius Limited applied for planning permission to erect large advertising hoardings along the front and side of the old tram offices – planning application C/00296/01/ADV. This application was refused on 12th March 2002. The reasons for refusal were:

“The proposed display would have a negative impact on the former Old Tram Depot (Grade II Listed Building) in terms of visual amenity and would therefore conflict with the Location of Advertisement Hoardings Policy (paragraph 5.2) adopted as Supplementary Planning Guidance.”


“The position of the proposed hoardings would create an unsatisfactory pedestrian visibility splay at the junction of Trafalgar Road and Moseley Road, and therefore prejudices the safety and free flow of pedestrians and motor vehicles in the adjacent highway(s). “

The applicant then appealed and a government inspector agreed with the Council’s decision to refuse the planning application.

In April 2005, the new owner of the tram offices, erected advertising hoardings in exactly the same locations and size as those refused in 2002. I complained to Planning. In a letter dated 10th June 2005, planning agreed that the advertising hoardings were unacceptable, especially in light of the fact they were refused planning permission 3 years earlier.

On the 20th June, Planning then wrote to me to say the advertsing hoardings did not require planning permission, since the site was going to be a building site and under advertising regulations they could erect the hoardings for 3 years.

How is it possible that advertising hoardings in 2002 are deemed to impact of the setting of a statutory listed building and to impact of the visibility at a road junction, is suddenly acceptable in 2005?

Boundary Wall
In 2004, the owner of the offices, Safdar Zaman, sought planning approval to convert the building into offices – planning application S/03789/04/FUL. This was approved on 16th December 2004. One of the conditions attached to the approval was:

“The replacement wall shown on the plans hereby approved shall be erected within 6 months of the date of this approval. REASON: In order to secure the satisfactory visual appearance of the Grade II listed building.”

The reason for this condition was that the owner has demolished an original 18foot high wall – made out of engineering brick – that stretched between the tram sheds and offices, on the Trafalgar Road elevation. Also the oringal front boundary wall of engineering brick was demolished. Both had been demolished without listed building consent.

To date neither walls have been erected. I wrote to the planning department on 24th July 2005, complaining that the walls hadn’t been built. I have never received a response and the walls have still not been erected.

Parking inbetween the tram sheds and tram offices.

When the tram offices were sold to Mr Safdar Zaman, the transfer of ownership contained details on rights of way and car parking in the courtyard inbetween the tram shed and tram offices.

When approval was given in June 2004 to convert the tram offices into office (planning application S/03789/04/FUL), the approval contained the following condition:

“Details of the car parking arrangements with the skateboard park operators. REASON: In order to secure the satisfactory development of the application site. “

In short, work could not start until a legal agreement about car parking was agreed between the skateboard park and the owner of the tram offices, Mr Zaman.

On the 7th February 2005, I complained to Planning that work had started on the front offices and yet no legal agreement had been reached.

On the 11th June 2005, I asked Planning to issue a Stop Notice on the work taking place inside the tram offices since no legal agreement had been reached with the skateboard park about parking arrangements.

On the 4th April 2007 – due to my YouTube video, I eventually got a response from Planning to say that action was not necessary since agreement had been reached on parking arrangements. This is not true – no agreement was ever reached.

Digging below the foundations of the Tram Offices

In 2005, Mr Safdar Zaman sought planning permission to excavate the cellars of the tram offices – planning application S/03384/05/FUL. Planning permission was approved on 17th May 2005.

In June 2005, details were submitted by Mr Zaman contractors to Building Regulations on how the cellars were going to excavated. The application was rejected on 9th July 2005 for the following reasons “Significant problems with the design”

In September 2005, work commenced still without the approval from Building Regulations. The work was stopped for the following reasons “Major excavations being carried out with large digger. Contractor was advised that he should not undermine existing structure. Also advised him that there were major problems with the application.......recommended that work stopped until the structural issues were resolved”

In the Summer 2006, work commenced on excavating the cellar – still without the approval of Building Regulations. The foundations were undermined and required re-strengthening. Work stopped.

Following the publication of my YouTube video, the site was visited by Building Regulations. They found that only 75% of the re-strengthening of the foundations had been complete.

Building Regulations records show:

“all previous work carried out without notification”, “also plans not approved – serious issues about M&E from new floors and basement”, “advised contractor to proceed with u/pin v[ery] cautiously”.

The last updated Building Regulations record from August 2007, state the following:

“No clear plans or details have been submitted showing the full proposals. It remains unclear how it is proposed to comply with almost every aspect of the Building Regulations.. Fire safety requirements and means of access for disabled are a particular concern.”

Work done to the building without Listed Building consent.

The interior and exterior of a statutory listed building is protected – this includes anything that was part of the original structure – right down to the floor boards.

The following have been removed from the tram offices without listed building consent:
1) The front boundary walls and the 18foot high wall that stretched between the offices and the tram sheds.
2) The entire ground floor – namely the concrete floor and wooden oak block covering
3) All the brick walls on the ground floor which subdived it into offices
4) Several large gaping holes have been punctured into the rear elevation of the building – these holes were used by the diggers to get into the basement.
5) Half the first floor – namely the wooden floor boards and wooden joists.

In July 2007, I complained to Planning that the last remaining internal wall and half the first floor had been removed without listed building consent. I have received no response to this enquiry.

In August 2007, I complained to Planning that a new concrete ground floor had been installed in the building, 1 metre below the original level of the ground floor – namely you would have to step down into the ground from the orignal entrance.I have received no response to this enquiry. However, Mr Safdar Zaman has had to seek retrospective planning approval for removal of the ground floor and first floor and installation of new floor at different levels – planning applcation S/05475/07/LBC

This is still awaiting a decision from planning.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Report back on Graffiti Art Festival in Kings Heath Park

The graffiti art festival in kings Heath took place this weekend and went very smoothly – no problems nor trouble. We had one teenager tag the gents toilets in the park and we’ve already had a word with him.

I’ll do a drive round tomorrow to see if any new tags have appeared locally over the weekend.
The weather was awful on Saturday, but it was still well attended. Sunday was alot kinder weather wise.

It was fascinating watching groups of teenagers stand for ages watching professional artists paint. There were some with autograph books getting the professional artists to sign for them.

We had some previously prolific taggers there watching the artists and it was a good opportunity for both local police community support offices and myself to chat to them.

We also had a specially built skateboard ramp available – this was built to the designs of a teenage skateboarding group who have been formed specially for this event. It was fascinating talking to these teenagers about the kind of skateboarding facilites they would like to see. It’s not large ramps they want, but low level urban street furniture – apparently ramps are for beginners. They showed me photos from Europe and the USA of specially designed street furniture for skateboarders. The designs are very simple and could easily be incorporated into the designs of new public open space – I’m of the opinion that the presence of skateboarders in public spaces helps make the area feel safe.

We are presently looking for a location to store the mobile skateboard ramp.

I’m keen to get more of these events for the summer. In A City Arts have suggested getting some ‘art-footballers’ over from Holland – these are footballers who can do tricks with footballs in a single location.

I would like to thank Bishop Challenor School and the artists from In A City Arts who did an excellent job creating this festival.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Standards Committee hearing on Cllr Mullaney and Cllr Hendricks

Outcome of the hearing of the Standards Committee into alledged breach of Members Code of conduct by Councillors Martin Mullaney and Councillors Ernie Hendricks

The meeting of todays Standards Committee into complaints relating to the creation of a YouTube video by Cllrs Mullaney and Hendricks about the derelict state of the former Tram Depot Offices at 582 Moseley Road, Moseley (statutory listed grade II), found the following:

Both Councillors were in breach of the Members Code in relation to showing disrespect to Mr Safdar Zaman, owner of the old tram depot offices.

The Committee agreed that neither Councillor had brought the Council or the office of Councillor into disrepute – this related to allegations about trepass.

The following sanctions were agree against both Councillors:
1) The YouTube video to be removed forthwith – this had been volunteered by the Councillors and the video has now been removed.
2) Both Councillors to be suspended for one month, unless they write a letter of apology to Mr Zaman and publish the apology on Councillor Mullaney’s website. The suspension will start 14days after the publication of the findings of the Committee next week – the suspension will not occur if the Councillors apologise.

Both Cllr Hendricks and myself have agree the following:
a) I will apologise to Mr Zaman. Cllr Hendricks will not and will be suspended for one month. I will contribute half my Councillors basic allowance to Ernie for that month.
b) It was agreed that I would apologise since Moseley and Kings Heath Ward needs two Councillors, otherwise the Ward Committee can not meet and decisions can not be made. We are both conscious that we are at the end of the financial year and that decisions need to be made so that a number local schemes that rely on public money can continue eg Moseley Street Wardens.
c) Even though Cllr Hendricks will be suspended he will continue to do casework for local residents, with the assistance of Cllr Cox and Mullaney.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Weekly report back from Moseley Street Wardens

Below are details of what our two Moseley Street Wardens did during week ending – 29th February 2008

Moseley Street Wardens are funded by public money granted by the Ward Committee, which consists of the three local Councillors. Moseley Community Development Trust manage the Wardens.

There are two Wardens who focus geographically on Moseley

Monday 25th February
Patrol village / Route 2
Grafftii street furniture - reported to Heartlands
Bags @ xxx Caroline Rd. ID recovered - reported to Beth Peters
Bags @ xxx Edgbaston Rd ID recovered - reported to Beth Peters
Furniture on frontage of 4 Strensham Hill
Patrolled village / Route 5
Graffiti street furniture - reported to Heartlands
Car bumper at jtn Wake Green Rd / St Agnus Rd - reported to Contact Birmingham

Tuesday 26th February
Patrolled village / Route 1
Graffiti street furniture / walls - reported to Heartlands
Rug outside 20A Trafalgar Rd - reported to Contact Birmingham
Exercise bench outside 1 St Albans Rd - reported to Contact Birmingham
Split bag of garden refuse outside 26 Sandford Rd - reported to Contact Birmingham
Patrolled village
Re-cycle unit on car park full - reported to Kappa
More rubbish / furniture in alleyway next to 4 Salisburt Rd - reported to Martin Mullaney

Wednesday 27th February
Patrolled village / Route 4
Replace litter bins at Select and save
Fresh water leak @ jct. St.Mary's Row / Oxford Rd - reported to Severn Trent
Graffiti street furniture - reported to Heartlands
Drain blocked @ 350 Alcester Rd - reported to Highways
Patrolled village / Route 3
Graffiti street furniture - reported to Heartlands
Take photos of land behind Select n Save, full of rubbish again - reported to Beth Peters
Take photos of alleyway next to 4 Salisbury Rd - reported to Martin Mullaney
Lamp post numbers 4 and 7 Amesbury Rd dayburning - reported to Street Lighting

Thursday 28th February
Patrolled village / Route 1 Alt
Graffiti street furniture - reported to Heartlands
Bin liners / carpet outside 11A Oakland Rd - reported to Contact Birmingham
Wooden cases outside 34 Woodstock Rd - reported to Contact Birmingham
Bin liner outside 62A Sandford Rd - reported to Contact Birmingham
Patrolled village / Route 6
Graffiti street furniture - reported to Heartlands

Friday 29th February
Patrolled village / Route 1
Green bags next to 4 Queenswood Rd - reported to Contact Birmingham
Bin liner outside xxx Grayfield Avenue I.D. found - reported to Beth Peters
Car bumper at jtn Wake Green Rd / St Agnus Rd - reported to Contact Birmingham
Patrolled village / Route 2
Graffiti street furniture - reported to Heartlands
Pile bin liners next to 1 Caroline Rd MISSED COLLECTION - reported to Contact Birmingham
Wooden pallet outside 127 Salisbury Rd - reported to Contact Birmingham

Green Doctor visits / Letters
Monday 25th February
Green Doctor visit - reported to Alcester Rd