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To Ventilate Naturally Or Not To Ventilate Naturally: Birmingham Resi's Never-Ending Sealed Windows Debate


Is Birmingham City Council getting any closer to a consistent view on sealed windows in apartment schemes?

With fresh air and ventilation at the top of everyone’s minds, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, the ability to open a window has taken on new importance.

The ongoing row between developers and the city’s planning committee over whether windows should be sealed shut has taken another turn with Rainer Developer’s plans for 366 apartments in two blocks at Moseley Street, Digbeth.

Developers said sealed windows are one way to insulate residents from the noise of a local late-night club. Councillors said that sealing windows is no longer an acceptable solution.

The debate comes to a head at today’s meeting of Birmingham City Council’s planning committee.

The meeting is a re-run of a debate the committee held on 13 May when it turned down the Rainer plan claiming the noise-mitigation on offer was not appropriate. Councillors argued that the only alternative was to turn down the application or risk a threat to Cleary’s Irish Bar, which has live music and DJ sets that can continue until 3am on weekend mornings. 

Council officials argued that the mitigation was sufficient to make the apartments a suitable living environment. Just 46 units would need to be fitted with sealed window units.

Council officers, and Turley, who are advising Rainer, have now come back insisting that councillors cannot reject sealed windows now, in the era of Covid-19, because they approved them several times before, in the five years before Covid-19.

Sealed units were approved in March 2021 for 39 units at Digbeth bus garage, for 91 bedrooms at Timber Yard in 2018, and 189 units at Bank I Tower in 2015.