Matters discussed by the Trustee Directors in April 2011

A brief report of matters discussed at the most recent committee meeting. Feedback on Society matters is welcomed on our online ‘Forum’.

1. Representatives from the Society had been invited to meet Kimberley Developments and had been advised, not consulted, about plans that are still under development. There was however a free exchange of information by both parties. The Society was bound to confidentiality, however it notes that many of the broad plans are already circulating widely within the village. It is the intention of Kimberley to hold another two day public meeting in the Village Hall (date TBA) prior to submission of a revised planning application.

2. The Society is pleased to have attended a planning meeting held in the Royal British Legion for the proposed event in celebration of the Diamond Jubilee of the Queen’s accession to the throne and will be playing a full part in that event. It is planned to close the High Street for a festival on Monday 4th June 2012. This event is being arranged by an ad hoc association of local organisations and as such meets the ultimate objective of the Society in having put out feelers for such an event about a year ago. In having considered the seeding of such an event, the Society also had in mind its own Golden Jubilee in 2012; however now that the Queen’s celebration has a healthy life of its own, The Knowle Society will continue parallel plans for a set of additional events during 2012 in celebration of its own Jubilee and is currently applying for a prestigious BBC radio broadcast (no guarantees!) and a dinner, as starters.

3. Liaison with Arden School/Academy is developing well and it is hoped that the current young people’s photographic competition being run by the Society will lead to more fruit in the Autumn.

4. Two pitches have been booked as usual for the Festival in the Park on Sunday 19th June, though some disappointment was expressed at the choice of a Sunday for this event.

5. Village Plan – the Directors were updated on the government’s plans for the strategic planning process. The Society will have 6-8 weeks to comment on the second draft of the Local Development Framework (LDF) which hopefully will allow further changes to be considered at the Inquiry in the summer of 2012. In the light of this the Society will now put arrangements for a Village Plan on hold until around Summer 2012 and maintain a watching brief in readiness for picking up the baton then.

6. Arrangements for provision of voluntary help on Saturday afternoons at the Library is continuing slowly but progress is being made with an agreement between the Library Service and The Knowle Society and the appropriate documentation for the volunteers. It is expected that the arrangement will commence by early Summer.

7. The Treasurer had reported at the last meeting that he had lost £25 in the accounts but that these had now been found. The collective sigh of relief from the Trustee Directors was ‘like a rushing wind’!

8. The Planning committee reported that a revised application was expected for new housing in place of the former Knowle Building & Decorating Supplies premises. It was also indicated that there was some small hope that the Council’s Conservation Advisory Committee could be spared the chop and continue in some form. This is not known definitely and no response had yet been received to a letter seeking a reprieve sent to the Leader of the Council and followed up by letters from our local councillors. The situation is that the decision to chop the committee had not yet received formal ratification. No outcome of the marina public enquiry had been seen yet either.

9. A meeting is arranged with Freddie Gick on 10th May which will be attended by the directors of the Society and committee members, however any other interested member is also welcome to attend. Mr Gick is the Chairman of Birmingham Civic Society, Chairman of the West Midlands Association of Amenity Societies (of which The Knowle Society is a member) and the Deputy Chairman of the newly formed Civic Voice. The Society belongs to Civic Voice which is the successor to the now defunct Civic Trust.

10. The current Local History exhibition at the library had been visited by the family of it’s subject, Thomas Brierley Dodwell DSO DFC in its Local Wartime Heroes series. The family had expressed its delight with the exhibition.

11. Membership of the Society has recently dipped below 3000 (as often happens when the annual subscription round throws up members who have move away or died). Several new members have been recruited recently and the figure is very close to topping that magic 3000 again! A new membership secretary is being sought as Bryan Smart’s resignation through ill-health will become effective in the autumn.

12. Some discussion took place about the cost of postal subscription in respect of the bulk of the newsletter and whether the desire to reduce this cost would also be benefitted by publishing the newsletter in an A5 format as so many organisations have done in recent times. No decision was taken but the possibility will be explored further.

Matters discussed by the Trustee Directors in March 2011

A brief report of matters discussed at the most recent committee meeting. Feedback on Society matters is welcomed on our online ‘Forum’.

1. The Directors received updates on the Kimberley Developments’ plans (no news yet) and developments at Arden School (some concern was expressed at rumours about the Youth Centre and it was agreed to establish the facts first). Progress with volunteering at the Library was reported as having become a little fraught but a meeting to review the way ahead was being sought with the Council. A meeting had also been arranged with the Council to discuss the development of a Village Plan for Knowle.

2. The Society’s involvement with the planning meeting for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations in Knowle was considered in the temporary absence of our intended representative. It agreed to exhibit at the Festival in the Park but regretted the move to a Sunday, the need for which was felt unproven.

3. Plans for the Society’s proposed Photographic Competition were agreed – prizes will be presented at the Festival in the Park.

4. The Directors will be arranging to meet with Freedie Gick of WestMASA (the West Midlands Amenities Societies Association) and himself the Vice-Chairman of Civic Voice the organisation that replaced the Civic Trust. An invitation to attend will be extended to all Society members.

5. Planning – an application for changed signage at the Red Lion (AGAIN!) was being resisted on the grounds that it was inappropriate in style and content for the area and the history of building.

6. Hopes that car parking issues in St Johns Close could be addressed shortly were in abeyance with a form of planning blight while Kimberley Developments’ plans were being awaited.

7. We received warning that Neighbourhood Policing was likely to be subject to significant cuts – the success of this policing recently was acknowledged by the Society.

8. As expected, the Knowle Green Community Project did not manage to gain a grant from Community Spaces. Funding is under extra pressure at this time and other projects were deemed more deserving than this one, though it is assumed that the project was essentially eligible given different circumstances.

9. Lengthy discussion ensued on the benefits or otherwise of changing the subscription collection season from October to April. The aim is to improve the rate of collection within the first month of the new year, whilst recognising that some collectors could, for personal reasons, agree with the Society to commit to a different month but then keep to that commitment.

10. The Directors agreed that The Knowle Society would become a member of Solihull SUSTAiN, which is free.

Matters discussed by the Trustee Directors in February 2011

A brief report of matters discussed at the most recent committee meeting. Feedback on Society matters is welcomed on our online ‘Forum’.

1. A Community meeting, to be held in the Royal British Legion on 23 March, will be called shortly by local organisations to discuss arrangements for the celebration of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012. This event is coincidental with the year of The Knowle Society’s Golden Jubilee. The Knowle Society, an early mover for this event, is fully involved in this planning. Monday 4th June 2012 would be the occasion of a Jubilee Fair and potential High Street closure.

2. Plans were discussed for a photographic competition for youth that would encourage a thoughtful view of the good and bad points of the village.

3. Andrew Marston has opened a dialogue with SMBC about the way forward to commencing preparation of a Village Plan.

4.Discussions are well advanced on the carefully thought through use and regulation of volunteers on Saturday afternoons in Knowle Library. These volunteers have come forward through The Knowle Society.

5. It was agreed in principle that the Society’s membership of the new Civic Voice organisation would be renewed for 500 pounds when the annual subscription renewal comes up shortly.

6. Knowle Green Community Project – the proposed development’s planning application has been approved by SMBC. No formal objections were received for that application. There is no news to report yet on potential grant funding but applications are likely to be considered by grant-making bodies over the next few weeks.

7. The continuing need for more distributors was raised and some considerations to ease the responsibilities of distributors were put forward; these included changing the subscription month from October to the following April; the potential for members to consider receiving their newsletters by email and the need to push for more standing order subscriptions.

8. It was agreed that the new liaison roles in the community (Arden School and Knowle Library) that Bill Bohanna had been championing recently should be recognised more formally in the committee structure of the Society; the title Community Liaison was proposed.

Matters discussed by the Trustee Directors in January 2011

A brief report of matters discussed at the most recent committee meeting. Many more items are reviewed on a regular basis but only significant changes or developments are reported here. Feedback on Society matters is welcomed on our online ‘Forum‘.

1. Contact with Arden Academy has been positive and opportunities for the Society to serve the school and vice versa have been suggested. Bill Bohanna continues to be the Society’s contact in this link. The meeting raised some further areas of possible beneficial contact, particularly our desire to foster a youth role within the Society. Arden Academy had invited the Society to comment on its new website and a suggestion was made in connection with information on governors.

2. Attempts to contact village photographic interests in connection with a proposed youth photographic competition for the Civic Day on 25 June had so far fallen on deaf ears; a further attempt will be made to encourage that interest. The Civic Day promoted nationally by our ‘representative body’ Civic Voice will actually be encompassed within the Society’s involvement in other planned village activity in 2011.

3. In the absence of any immediate names coming forward to lead a possible Village Plan, the Trustee Directors gladly accepted Andrew Marston’s offer to carry that flag, at least until and if someone else appropriate comes forward, possibly once the project has begun to find its feet and be embraced more widely within Knowle. It was noted that the current developments in ‘localism’ may actually lead to changes to the way in which Village Plans and Village Design Statements are perceived and received by local authorities.

4.Bill Bohanna reported that although were some areas of sensitivity and aspects of the Library Volunteers scheme still to be worked out, the 32 volunteers identified through the Society would shortly be placed before SMBC for training and deployment, probably on Saturday afternoons. This work would enable extended opening hours with limited services but would not impinge on the roles of existing library staff.

5. Community Services will submit a completed questionnaire (circulated earlier for Trustee Director comment) on the Local Transport Plan; the response will be neutral on wider issues such as the HST but will be specific in matters which are directly relevant to Knowle.

6. A legacy of 500 pounds from the estate of Mrs Hazzard (formerly of 44 Crabmill Close) was gratefully acknowledged. The testator has left secret instructions with her executors as to the type of item that might be purchased with that legacy. The Society will offer her executors some ideas that might be of benefit to the Society and possibly within the spirit of the legacy but it was recognised that the unknown terms of the will are a matter solely for the executors.

7. Material was being gathered in preparation for the Society’s submission to the Inspector in the matter of the proposed Jacobean Lane Moorings planning appeal.

8. Braggs’ Undertakers, whose planning application for their fascia had been rejected by SMBC (with Society support), was understood to be considering a revised application. The Society was pleased to note that the intention was to keep this new application appropriate to the Conservation Area.

9. Murco, whose planning application had also been rejected (with Society support) was reported to be planning changes of height, location and brightness in keeping with its position within the Conservation Area. This move was also welcomed by the Society.

10. The replacement of the present location of Carly’s (moving next to Lyons’ Butchers) with a Costa Coffee outlet and the use of pavement space for café seating was discussed and generally it was felt that this development would be satisfactory with appropriate safeguards about openng hours in respect of the residents in the adjacent residential flats.

11. SMBC is to come back to the Society within one month on its request to consider the dangers of on-street parking on some bends of St Johns Close leading to Lodge Road.

12. The Knowle Green Community Project has received a much-appreciated 1000 pounds grant from Jaguar Land Rover through the good offices of SMBC. A grant of 3000 pounds has been applied for from the airport’s community fund, money which is raised through fines on airlines failing to meet noise criteria. The question of windbreaks to address the prevailing wind at the new facility was being put again to the architect and a solution was expected using sustainable materials. It is hoped that this will address genuine concerns of members and the public who have viewed the proposed design. The new shelter greatly increases the capacity for people waiting for buses, up to 16.

13. Knowle Football Club is proposing once again to apply for floodlighting at its ground which is within the Green Belt. The Trustee Directors expressed a wish to support this thriving club in principle if they propose a well-designed application (e.g. fittings that can be lowered when not in use and carefully directed light) and that appropriate restrictions on hours of use are applied.

14. It was agreed that if there were to be a revised application from Kimberley Developments then any publicity for future public meetings would use all means available but not a door-to-door leaflet drop as the Society’s position and role on this proposed development is now well-known and the considerable expense of so doing could be better directed and more cheaply to other media. Members are particularly advised to keep watching the Society’s website for developments.

Matters discussed by the Trustee Directors in December 2010

A brief report of matters discussed at the most recent committee meeting. Feedback on Society matters is welcomed on our online ‘Forum’.

1. There is no news to report on the proposed ‘Waitrose’ development, except that a revised proposal is envisaged by Kimberley Developments which would not involve replacement of the Village Hall but was thought possibly to utilise the old bowling green. It is understood that further community consultation will be sought by Kimberley before submitting new plans.

2. Plans for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the Society’s Golden Jubilee in 2012 were discussed, including the opportunity to work closely with the expertise and funding that exists from the village’s celebrations at the Millennium, in 2002 (Golden Jubilee) and in 2005.

3. Youth involvement continues to be a top priority for the Society. Following recent advice from Solihull MBC’s Youth Service and the newly formed Civic Voice, the Trustee Directors considered a photographic competition and the use of social websites as desirable ways forward. Newly formed links with Arden would also be explored to seek the school’s input and advice.

4. Switching on the Christmas lights was felt to be another successful occasion. The event was reviewed and a few points were noted for subsequent years. Numbers were thought to be similar to last year.

5. Finding a suitably qualified and available person to lead the proposed Village Plan was seen as an urgent requirement; the need for a Village Plan was becoming more inevitable each day.

6. The Society’s offer of help in supporting Knowle Library has been verbally accepted in principle by SMBC and remains to be worked out and taken forward.

7. Last month’s AGM was felt to have been a successful event and that the format was right.

8. It was reported that a planning application can be expected to convert the premises of the former Knowle Decorating & Building Supplies into housing. A conversion from office to retail use is also expected for the old Soden’s shop as an extension of the bridal-wear shop.

9. Community Services concerns centred on the current proliferation of A-Boards in the High Street and parking on the bends of St Johns Close.

10. More offers of stewards to help with the Boxing Day walk were needed.

11. A grant application for the Knowle Green Community Project was currently being prepared; the budget for the scheme has been reduced; a meeting was imminent to consider which trees should be retained in the scheme and decisions are needed on the incorporation of the new illuminated service indicator panels.

12. It was noted that the new Localism bill has the potential for a significant impact on the Society and its role in the community.

13. The benefits of professional input to the design of the website and a more ‘newsy’ and less wordy newsletter were raised but no decisions were taken.