1. What have BVT done to make the new Bournville Estate Design Guide as easy to use as possible?
A number of residents consulted felt the draft new Design Guide was too long. In response to this, we have moved a section on the history and character of the Estate to an appendix, making the practical ‘how to’ sections of the Guide easier to find; and also published a shorter version with this appendix removed altogether. In response to feedback on specific sections, the final Design Guide is also laid out in a way that is more accessible to those with impaired sight.
2. Will alterations made before the new Design Guide took effect count as a precedent when BVT comes to consider new applications?
No. The rules and guidance in the new Design Guide will be the sole criteria in evaluating applications. An exception will only be made in cases where neighbouring properties or street already contain many examples of non-compliant features matching the proposed alteration, where it would make more sense to match this feature for consistency.
3. How will BVT enforce the new Design Guide where work is carried out without prior approval?
The new Design Guide (see ‘Introduction’) sets out a clear programme of enforcement action we will take where it is not possible to resolve the issue informally. For owners, this will involve applying for an injunction (also notifying your mortgage lender), whilst for BVT tenants this will involve enforcement action that could result in the tenant losing their home. To ensure that as many residents as possible are aware that they need to refer to new guidance, a range of activities are planned to raise awareness of the new Design Guide in summer 2021, including drop-in sessions for residents, a letter to all households and social media and website activity.
4. What can BVT now do about long-running building works near my home?
In the first phase of consultation, several residents identified alterations where disruptive building work had been carrying on for a long time, or where the property had been left in an unfinished state. In response to this, we have now stipulated that alterations must be completed within one year of work starting, unless we approved an alternative phasing when plans were submitted to us.
5. How can I find out which zone my property is in?
In the new Design Guide, ‘zones’ have been defined to ensure that appropriate policies, differentiated where necessary, are in place for each area of the Estate. A map is available in the Introduction to the Design Guide showing the zones; where your home is near a zone boundary on this map, you will be able to easily verify which zone your home is in using our street checker (to be available from 2nd July).
6. How have BVT finalised the zones?
We have defined zones that reflect the character and age of each area of the Estate. In the case of Zone A (Historic), the boundaries match the Conservation Areas. Consultation feedback has been taken into account and some boundaries adjusted in response to this.
7. How will BVT safeguard the character of Zones B (Traditional) and C (Modern)?
For certain alterations, the new guidance allows more flexibility in these zones (particularly the Modern zone). However, this guidance has been designed to ensure that we are able to refuse permission for alterations that would cause adverse impacts to the character of the area. (For example, front extensions will not be considered in zones A and B but will be considered in zone C provided that specified steps are taken to ensure they are sensitive to the surrounding streetscape). All zones you must obtain BVT approval before starting any works.
8. I have concerns about homeowners subletting their homes to tenants and their tenants not maintaining their homes as they should / not being aware of the rules of the Design Guide.
Complying with the Design Guide is the responsibility of the homeowner and they must ensure their tenants are aware of rules. There aren’t any covenants or conditions that prevent homeowners from sub-letting their properties, but they do remain responsible for the upkeep of their property and gardens if the property is sub-let. However, we recognise that we need to do some more work with homeowners on this and we are reviewing the information that we give out to new homeowners on what their responsibilities are if they sublet and clarification on telling us if they choose to sub-let their home. We will enforce the rules of the Design Guide in the same way for sub-let properties but we don’t have any powers to stop a homeowner subletting their property. For BVT tenants, subletting forms part of their tenancy agreement which does not allow subletting.
9. I’m a BVT tenant, does the Design Guide apply to me?
Yes the Design Guide does apply to you if you want to make your own home improvements to the external structure and gardens of your home. Your tenancy conditions require you to seek BVT consent before making any improvements to your property. Your tenancy conditions do make it explicit that when considering your application/request to improve your home, you must ensure it complies with the Design Guide requirements.
10. What can BVT do about the upkeep of historical buildings in Bournville that you don’t own?
Where possible we will always try to work with organisations that own these buildings to raise concerns about their management or appearance. However, we have no jurisdiction or legal powers to manage these buildings or their use unless it breaches the Design Guide or the Bournville Scheme of Management.
11. Can I run a business from my home?
If you want to run a business from your home, within the Scheme of Management, you must ask our permission and we will consider this. A business being run from home will usually be supported if it is operated in a way that doesn’t result in issues/nuisance for the local neighbourhood, for example; car parking, deliveries and noise.
12. Is there scope to tackle invasive, non-indigenous species?
In both phases of consultation, residents made it very clear that they valued the green character of their neighbourhood and wished to see this retained; at the same time some residents also wanted more flexibility on invasive, non-indigenous species that can block out light and deprive other plants of water. We have taken this into account in the new Design Guide by (a) prohibiting new fast-growing hedges such as leylandii and conifers and (b) clarifying that we will consider the removal of tree species such as leylandii and conifers provided an appropriate new tree is planted.
13. How much scope does the new Design Guide give me to protect the security of my property?
Some residents in the final phase of consultation made it clear that they felt the draft new Design Guide was too restrictive in terms of home security. In response to this, we have removed a policy that states CCTV is discouraged, and removed a requirement to paint burglar alarm boxes in dark colours or colours that blend with their background.
14. What scope is there to install solar panels and other energy saving technologies at my home?
The new Design Guide aims to reduce the Estate’s use of fossil fuels while maintaining the character of each neighbourhood. For instance, the draft new Design Guide proposed allowing solar panel and PV systems on front and side roof slopes in Zone C (Modern), provided they comply with specified design policies, but forbidding this in Zones A and B. A majority of residents at the final phase of consultation backed this approach, which has now been adopted for the final Design Guide. We recognise there is a range of differing opinions on this issue and will keep our policies under review as new, more visually discreet, solutions come on the market. In the meantime, a range of energy saving measures are recommended in the new Design Guide that are applicable to all zones.
15. How will BVT assess applications to create hardstanding in front gardens for parking?
The consultation has indicated a strong desire to preserve the green character of the Estate, including front gardens. In response to this, we have kept an existing rule stipulating that no more than 2/3 of a front garden area can be hardstanding. At the same time, some residents indicated they would like to see more freedom to create hardstanding for parking, so to add flexibility we have included an exception to the above rule for terraced houses with no garage available or houses with small gardens. Applications for hardstanding in such cases must meet a range of criteria to safeguard the green appearance of the street and reduce surface water run-off – please see the new Design Guide for more details. The majority of residents consulted on this particular policy in the final phase of consultation agreed with the policy. When applying for a new drive or extension to a drive, you must have proof that you have obtained permission from Birmingham City Council (BCC) for a drop kerb, without this approval will not be given by BVT.
16. I want to install an electric car charging point for the driveway at my home, how easily can I do this?
As set out in the new Design Guide, this will require a minor application to us – such applications are decided within three weeks. This will ensure that the size and location of the charging point are acceptable – please see the new Design Guide for details. More generally, we are conscious of the need to include car charging provision for residents without driveways in the years ahead, and are looking at how best we can do this.
If you raised a specific question during the consultation that hasn’t been answered above or to you personally via a letter or telephone call, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0300 333 6540 and we will update the website, or contact you directly, whichever is most appropriate.