RESIDENTS in Stourbridge’s Old Quarter have been celebrating the refusal of a plan to build nearly 60 new homes on the old Longlands School site.

Persimmon Homes had applied to build 59 new properties on the former school and Stourbridge College site, owned by Birmingham Metropolitan College, which has been gradually reclaimed by nature since it was mothballed by the college in 2011.

But people living near the site, which is accessed off Brook Street and Bowling Green Road, were up in arms over the plan and a total of 184 formal objections were lodged with the council.

A spokesman for the developers told Dudley’s development control committee residents had been consulted over the proposal back in July and he added: “Since then we’ve worked diligently to address issues.”

He said the density of the development had been reduced slightly and that 15 of the properties had been ear-marked for social housing.

Councillors on the committee, however, tonight (Tuesday January 8) voted to reject the plan - which was to comprise a mix of one, two, three and four bedroom homes - saying it constituted over development of the site.

Councillor Bryan Cotterill said it was vital that the committee listened to the people and the concerns raised - which included fears about extra traffic and parking problems in and around the tiny, congested streets in the Old Quarter - and he added: “Otherwise we should all go home.”

Ward councillor Nic Barlow (Conservative), who spoke on behalf of concerned residents, branded the scheme “bog standard” and said: “The site has to be developed but sympathetically with a holistic approach. With this application no there’s no genuine offer of social or affordable housing or anything to support our community.”

After the meeting he said the right decision had been reached and he urged the developer to properly engage with ward councillors and the community to “come up with something residents want”. He added: “These buildings are going to be there longer than I - we’ve got to look at the future.”

Cat Eccles, spokesman for the objectors and Labour’s candidate for Wollaston and Stourbridge Town, said afterwards: “I think it’s a really good outcome for the residents. Hopefully either this developer or another will go away and come back with a better offer. I 100 per cent agree it needs to be demolished but not with something of this density.”

The plan would have seen all of the old school buildings demolished to make way for the new homes and principal planning officer Emily Napier told the committee that although some of the buildings were locally listed their loss was considered acceptable.

Councillor David Vickers agreed and described the buildings as a “mish mash” - telling the committee: “The buildings need to be demolished. There’s been fires, graffiti and the windows are all smashed and it’s unsafe. There are many locks to try and stop people getting in but people still come in. It does need to come down.”

John Stephens, who runs Stephens Carpet Warehouse in Brook Street, was relieved to see the plan turned down but he said: “We’ll have to wait and see what happens and whether they’ll have a rethink.”

Refusal of the scheme also means the resident badgers can sleep soundly in their setts on the site for now. If it had been approved plans would have been afoot to relocate them to an artificial sett which was earmarked to be built on disused land on the eastern part of the site.