Appalled members of Tipton Civic Society strongly objected to a proposal by Tyler Grange PRS Ltd to convert the Grade II listed Boat Gauging House and erect two other buildings to create 50 flats off Factory Road.
Keigh Hodgkins, from the Society, said the scheme was not good enough for an area of such national importance that could adorn front covers of canal magazines.
Representatives for the applicants said the plan would make use of the long term derelict site as well as preserve the listed building which is in a poor state.
But Mr Hodgkins told the Sandwell Council’s planning committee the proposal failed to achieve the quality required.
He added the developer has simply taken a previous design from 2011 – which the Society backed – and crammed 11 more apartments on to it.
He said: “We unfortunately have objected to this application on grounds of poor design. I say unfortunately because we don’t like objecting to things.
“We like to be positive and constructive but we found this scheme to fall below the standards required in a conservation area adjacent to a listed building.
“This site is incredibly important. Not just for Tipton, not just for Sandwell and not even just for the Black Country. This is a site that is exceptionally important nationally because of its position on the internal canal system.
“It’s a focal point and certainly the center of the Black Country canal system.
“Whatever is built here will be scrutinized by the canal fraternity nationally and by anybody concerned with the quality of urban design and regeneration.
“It’s a historic spot where the old and new line canals join. We’ve got the old line canal created by James Brindley in 1772 and we’ve got new line canal by Thomas Telford in 1825 – two of the greatest British civil engineers.
“On this site we will be walking in the steps of master builders and whatever is built here needs to evoke the legacy of those great engineers.
“Whatever is built here will be in every canal magazine, every architectural magazine. Get this right committee and this could be a lot of kudos for Sandwell Council. Get it wrong and you won’t get that.
“I’m afraid this scheme does not achieve that quality. What we’ve got to have here is the best of the best. This scheme represents not even the best of the worst. It’s just not good enough.
“If we look at the plans and compare them to what was approved in 2011, which was a good scheme, this new applicant has taken that previous scheme and in typical greedy developer style crammed in more and more units. Another 11 on top of a good scheme.
“It’s a poor job. It has all the appearance of a budget hotel from the 1970s. It’s absolutely awful.
“This scheme is so important for the image and perception of Tipton, Sandwell and the whole of the Black Country.”
Agents Croft Development Consultancy said: “The proposal actually enhances the setting of the listed building and the conversation area. It will regenerate this site which has been derelict now for some time.
“The proposals actually utilize the listed building and provide a viable use for its long term future which surely is a positive outcome for this application.”
If the scheme is approved The Boat Gauging House, which dates back to 1873, will be converted into four apartments while two new blocks – housing 36 flats in one and 10 in the other – will be constructed on site.
“There will be a total of 32 two-bedroom apartments, 16 one bed and two studio flats once the development is complete.”
Members of Sandwell Council’s planning committee deferred the decision pending a site visit to the area at a meeting on Wednesday.