Development setback?

Prince of Wales

Prince of Wales - side view

A proposed new development in Moseley may threaten the existence of one of the area’s best-loved landmarks. Dave Woodhall reports on a new twist to an old saga.

The perennial conflict between developers and old-established entertainment venues in Birmingham has moved into the suburbs following the decision to allow developers Crosby Lend Lease to build in the centre of Moseley.

Permission for a block of 50 new flats next to the Prince of Wales public house was renewed yesterday despite more than 300 letters to Birmingham city council from pub regulars and objections from local police who claimed that the development, overlooking Moseley police station, would present a security risk.

There are now worries that the sort of problems which have followed the arrival of residents into the city centre will threaten the future of one of Birmingham’s best-known drinking establishments.

This type of conflict has been taking place for decades but first came to public notice in 2004 when the Fiddle & Bone in the city centre was forced to close following the loss of its music licence after complaints by people living in nearby luxury developments.

More recently, the Spotted Dog in Digbeth has been fighting a constant battle with local residents and council officials over claims of excessive noise from the pub. Other venues to have been threatened with legal action and the threat of closure over similar issues include the Fountain and the Rainbow pubs, also in Digbeth, and the Nightingale club off Hurst Street.

In all these cases problems only began following the building of new housing developments in close proximity to established music venues. The Prince of Wales does not feature live music regularly but does promote a handful of events every year in its popular beer garden.

While the trend towards urban living is to be welcomed as a way of regenerating inner cities and of easing housing shortages, common sense surely should prevail in such matters. If you move next to a live music venue, particularly one in a city centre, you accept there will be some disturbance.

If, as a developer, you want to build flats next to such an establishment, you make sure they’ve got adequate sound insulation.

Most importantly, if you, as a citizen, want your city to be seen as a vibrant, 21st century place, you don’t let property developers ruin its culture and you find out a way of sorting out these problems before you allow any more building to take place where it might cause friction.

It doesn’t seem too difficult to me, so why does it happen time and again?

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