Dear Austin Village Residents,
As you will know, as your local councillor I have been campaigning on behalf of the Austin Village for a number of years in order to find a solution to the problem many face with upgrading their homes with suitable affordable materials whilst protecting the village’s conservation status to prevent unsympathetic development that damages the unique charm of this historic area. In 2017, along with Hon Alderman Randal Brew I called on the council to modify the existing Article 4 Directive to properly reflect Austin Village and its community, including the use of modern affordable building materials. Sadly the Council has pursued a policy of to cancel the Conservation Status altogether, a move which would allow the village to be changed beyond all recognition and see the removal of many of the bungalows and remove all trace of its links to the past.
Some excellent local campaigning by residents and the Austin Village Preservation Society has seen this decision delayed, and The Leader of Birmingham City Council has now confirmed to us that he has asked officers to look into modifying the accompanying Article 4 directive to allow residents to maintain their homes to an acceptable standard at a suitable cost, i.e what we were asking to be done 3 years ago.
This is clearly a positive step forward, though it is not yet a battle won. The Leader has only committed to asking officers to review the decision and has ultimately passed the buck to them to make the final call, whilst acknowledging that they remain predisposed to confirming their original decision and removing conservation status. The timing of this, amidst a global pandemic and national lockdown, is going to limit the extent to which residents can continue to both be informed of, and input into this review. It is, therefore, vital those that wish to protect Austin Village for this and future generations, and those that wish to ensure that this is done in a way that allows residents to make sympathetic home improvements at a reasonable cost, act now to keep the pressure on Birmingham City Council to secure the best possible outcome for the village. I would urge you all to sign our online petition, linked below.
Cllr Debbie Clancy Gary Sambrook MP