PLANS for a ‘landmark’ 40-room five-storey shared-housing block in Lowesmoor look set to be approved this week, despite concerns over its size.

An application for the House in Multiple Occupation (HMO), plus permission for the ground floor to be used for shops, pubs and restaurants or offices, will be decided by the city council’s planning committee on Thursday (September 20).

Officers have recommended approval of the plans for the “gateway” building, which include permission to use the ground floor as a shop, restaurant, bar, pub or for professional and financial use and for the remaining four floors to house 40 rooms as well as communal kitchens, bathrooms and toilets.

The plan has drawn criticism from Historic England and council conservationist officers.

Historic England rejected the original six-storey application and the current five-storey plan saying it was “too big” for the area.

The heritage body said whilst it did not object to the principle of the development it wanted a rethink on the design and height of the building so it would fit in better with the “very sensitive” Lowesmoor Conservation Area.

It is also rejected the plan on the grounds it did not reflect the character or appearance of the historic architecture in Lowesmoor or nearby St George’s Church.

With regards to its size, the building would be roughly the same height as the neighbouring Asda supermarket but around five metres shorter than the already approved but yet to be built 98-bed apartment block opposite St Martin’s Gate car park.

The Archdiocese of Birmingham welcomed the plan in principle but, in a letter to council planners, Reverend Paul O’Connor said: “In my view, the scheme needs further revision to reduce the height and thereby the massing, to simplify the use of materials and to ensure that there is a development that sits more comfortably in the street scene.”