SMBC proposals to re-engineer a zone of Station Road and St. Lawrence Close opposite Arden School and certain paths within the Park have met with considerable opposition. The Knowle Society lays out its initial response to proposals which are deemed inappropriate, ineffective and potentially counter-productive in meeting a worthy objective. [Scheme now postponed pending further consultation.]
The Society last month became aware of plans prepared by the Council under the aegis of the Government’s Safer Cycle Routes initiative. The plans were apparently prepared some time last July but in spite of a declared commitment to consult stakeholders, this does not seem to have happened.
The plans in question have been the subject of considerable discussion as they affect both Knowle Park, St. Lawrence Close and Station Road. The object is to provide a safe cycle route to Arden School from several parts of the village and the Government’s strategy is to encourage cycling as part of the anti-obesity drive.
The Society is, it goes without saying, fully in favour of well thought through plans which would have the effect required. Sadly, however, having subjected these plans to very careful scrutiny, the Trustee Directors have come to the conclusion that the plans in question fail to meet the minimum requirements for acceptability. Among other factors, the following seem to be unacceptable:
a) The proposal to widen the footpath in Station Road, thereby narrowing the road. Station Road is already very narrow and the proposal would in our view increase the danger for cyclists at all times of the day and night. The previous restriction of Station Road between Lodge Road and the High Street has not been an unqualified success and cycling there has become more, not less hazardous.
b) The proposal to impose a 20 m.p.h. speed limit at all times through the day. If this were restricted to the above ‘rush hours’ then in our view motorists would be much more likely to obey the restriction and the hoped-for benefits would be achieved.
c) The part of the plan that will affect St. Lawrence Close. In our view this is totally impractical and will lead to total ‘clogging’ of the close and consequent increased danger to cyclists.
d) The future proposals for the park. There are several objections to this aspect and the Society is joined by the Friends of Knowle Park in opposition. The plans would, in our joint view, increase danger for users of the park in several places where visibility is obstructed for minimum possible benefit to any cyclists.
e) The system of chicanes and ‘speed bumps’ which in our view will hinder and possibility endanger cyclists particularly in view of the narrowing of Station Road.
Comments by members who have studied the plans will naturally be welcomed but in view of the difficulties referred to above, time is very short. In the interim, we are presenting a detailed objection to the proposals, while welcoming the principle.
Update 8 Jan 2009: The decision on the scheme has been postponed until the next financial year, pending further ‘stakeholder’ consultation. The Knowle Society intends to play a full and constructive part in that consultation.
From Sunday 25th January 2009 replacement bus routes (S2 & S3) are being introduced through Knowle. The Knowle Society has summarised the most popular journeys between Knowle and Solihull and provided these in a simple document which you can download here. Service along Purnells Way (the old 151) has been withdrawn but service between Knowle and Dorridge along Station Road has returned, with an hourly prime time weekday service only (S2). Broadly, daytime bus frequency has reduced from between 4-6 per hour to 3 per hour.
Knowle Library and the Knowle Society’s Local History Centre continue to work together to celebrate local heritage. Visit before December 13th and you can view two exhibitions and buy a DVD filled with footage from the last century.
The first exhibition, on the Library’s Ground Floor, is entitled ‘Historic Knowle’ and looks at a range of subjects around the village. The visitor can discover which of Kenilworth Road’s terraced houses sports a Victorian Jubilee plaque, used to be part of the Bulls Head Inn and subsequently housed the Sergeant next to his Police Station. Alongside this are photographs and detail about more prominent historic properties such as Knowle Hall and a village centrepiece, the magnificent 15th century Guild House.
Meanwhile, upstairs, in the Knowle Society run Local History Centre, the display cases present ‘Then and Now’. This is a photographic comparison of the village today and how it was. From Chester House, the Library itself, in 1894 to the junction of Lodge and Longdon Roads in 1927, times have changed and the pictures show how.
After that, the Library counter has take home nostalgia in the form of a new Knowle Society DVD, ‘Knowle Celebrations’, which contains over an hour of extracts from twenty-three films made by Mr F G Ratcliff. The earliest shows the British Legion Parade estimated at 1930 and the final one, the opening of Knowle Primary School in 1966. In between are the celebrations King George V’s Jubilee and VE Day, a village Tug’o’War, several Carnivals and more.
The DVD provides a fascinating insight into community life in decades past. There are also some remarkable glimpses of the main streets of Solihull Town Centre from the 1960s as demolition was in hand to prepare for the construction of Mell Square.
Janet Erzen, the new Chair of the Local History Committee, said ‘Knowle Society has a tremendous archive of village memories and the Library, the oldest building on the High Street, is the ideal place to showcase them.’
Good crowds, excellent policing and lots of excited children made this annual event another highlight in the community life of Knowle.
On what must have been one of the coldest afternoons ever for the event the Society’s Christmas Tree was switched on by Father Christmas on 1st December. The crowds however were not deterred from the occasion and the Society expresses sincere thanks to the Vicar, Knowle and Dorridge Round Table for arranging the transport for Father Christmas, Knowle and Dorridge Lions for the stewarding marshals, Midway Hire for the barriers, the Ardenaires for playing their instruments in very cold conditions and finally the local Police for assistance with traffic control. An ad-hoc committee of volunteers from the Society’s membership, namely John, Tony, Phil and Gary organised the event. The Traders’ street lights look as beautiful as ever. This event is now becoming a must in the annual calendar, but it should be remembered that all the contributions were made voluntarily and every effort should be made to continue this tradition.