Submissions have been made by The Knowle Society to Solihull MBC re. two recent planning applications for residential developments at Hall Farm (070612) and Four Ashes Road (090512). Copies of those letters are attached here.
1. A meeting was expected shortly in which Kimberley Developments will explain to the Society’s Planning committee representatives what steps it is taking in response to the objections raised by the Society to its latest planning application for a Waitrose store et.al.
2. Yorkshire Tea was reported to have made a generous donation of teabags and decorative paraphernalia for use in the Village Tea Party to be held in celebration of the Society’s Golden Jubilee on 5th May.
3. Any Questions? – This event has been oversubscribed, the name of the fourth panellist has yet to be announced. All arrangements with Arden Academy are now in hand for this prestigious event.
4. AGM – Gary Masters announced that he will be retiring at this AGM and therefore there will be a further vacancy for a Trustee Director. The name of a possible new nominee was discussed. It was agreed to continue with previous practice and have a tea/coffee break after the formal business.
5. The two councillors present provided updates on the Solihull Local Plan (the final version to be submitted for approval by the Secretary of State is out for discussion – the Society will be making a submission on the intended advancing of plans to build housing in Four Ashes, Hampton Road and Grove Road); the removal of protection of the Relief Road Line (aka the by-pass land) [*see further detail below]; the Royal British Legion building will be used again for a polling station instead of Arden School; an area of the Borough (not Knowle) will try reducing street lighting hours on an experimental basis; the Conservation Advisory Committee (CAC) will be brought out of mothballs for consideration of the Kimberley/Waitrose planning application – SMBC decision on this application is expected in late March; a free parking period in Borough car parks will continue – the hours are subject to further discussion; Tilehouse Green Lane is due to be resurfaced in the Spring.
6. No 8 Wilsons Road (the last one in residential use in that block) has been approved for conversion to office use.
7. Copies of a report on an aircraft noise monitoring exercise in Knowle were circulated; the Society is pressing for further clarification on the data about flights made at the extreme edge of the allowed corridor where these pass closest to Knowle.
8. Planting of a tree, possibly in Jobs Close (Knowle) Park in commemoration of the Society’s Jubilee was discussed. Details of the Streamside Trust (land by Wychwood Avenue) were explained by one of the local councillors and the Society expressed its continued interest in being able to contribute to the future trusteeship/management of that land.
9, A very successful guided tour of Knowle for a local cub pack was reported. It was recognised that this sort of activity was important if youngsters were to be encouraged to take a future interest in civic matters; the Society being keen to develop a youth interest within its structure.
10. A new committee of the Trustee board was under consideration that would combine the current one-man-bands of publicity, membership, newsletter, distribution and the website.
11. A member had expressed an interest in moving forward the Knowle Green Community Project (the old toilet block) and the Society would be meeting with him to explore his interest.
[* Reasons given for removal of protection on Relief Road Line were: a) The Highways Agency says that it is no longer needed as the M40/M42 have proved to be effective in carrying traffic away from Knowle, b) a by-pass might prevent people from coming into Knowle to shop, c) the route would cut right between residential areas and cut them off from the village centre and d) a by-pass wouldn’t actually be put on that line today anyway.]
PLANNING APPLICATION 2011/1914 – Land at Four Ashes
The Society has written to Gary Palmer, Head of Design and Development at Solihull MBC in respect of this application.
Dear Mr Palmer,
Land at Four Ashes
On behalf of The Knowle Society I wish to make the following comments on this application. Although the land in question is not within the Knowle ward and so we would not normally comment on an application at this location, this one will have an impact on Knowle so we feel bound to comment on it.
The principle of the development
We have had the opportunity of discussions with those involved in the development, for which we are grateful.
The land in question is currently allocated as a long-term housing site in the UDP and is due to be reallocated when the draft Local Plan is ratified. It is our view that the application should not be considered until the status of the land is confirmed. We will be objecting to the current intention in the draft Local Plan of allocating the land for development in Phase 1 as it would exacerbate the problems in the area with traffic and the provision of public services, especially schooling. Consideration of this application now would remove our right to have this allocation in the Local Plan reconsidered.
The detail of the design
We are pleased to see that the design includes a significant allocation of ‘affordable’ housing. As we have made clear before, including in our responses to the draft Local Plan and in a meeting with John Pitcher, we are in favour of increasing the number of affordable houses provided in the area. However we are strongly in favour of a mix of arrangements for enabling affordability. We believe that there is a real need for houses to be provided under some form of mixed ownership system, whereby the purchase price is reduced and the differential with the ‘real’ value is retained in perpetuity. We believe that this application would benefit from such a method of enabling affordability.
While we have no comment on the general layout of the site, we are very concerned by the arrangement that places nine of the fifteen affordable houses in one block at the south (the far end) of the site. Placing so many together must affect the ambience of this part of the site. The presence of a blind end to the road (Lane 2) at this end of the site, where it abuts the rest of the long-term housing site would suggest that it could continue when the rest of the site is developed in due course. The temptation would then be to site another batch of affordable housing alongside, exacerbating the situation. We request reconsideration of the positioning of the nine affordable houses so they are more spread out within the site in a ’pepper-pot’ fashion.
Chairman, Planning Committee, The Knowle Society
1. No further developments were reported in the Kimberley/Waitrose planning application which is expected to be heard by Solihull Council in February. In the meantime the Society will be meeting with the Council to discuss Conservation Area concerns in respect of the application.
2. Arrangements were tabled for the four events celebrating the Society’s Jubilee year. It was agreed in particular that the ‘Tea Party’ with birthday cake to be held in the Village Hall would be thrown open to the whole community, whether members of the Society or not. It was noted that the Any Question? broadcast was likely to be over-subscribed.
3. It was agreed to continue exploring the possibility of a full-colour newsletter – perhaps using a design and print service, though there were reservations about taking that route. The change could be made coincident with appointing a new editor, for which volunteers would be sought.
4. It was agreed to form a new committee (possibly to be named ‘Membership Services’) which would pull together the five member-related activities of Membership, Newsletter, Distribution, Website and Publicity. The need for greater coordination of these activities was recognised as the Society continues to respond to changes in communication and technology.
5. Although the Society has adequate funds at present it is recognised that is growing role in community events (such as the Christmas lights) and developments in the newsletter may cause regular expenditure to exceed income and that the subscriptions which have remained unchanged for many years, could require review.
6. Knowle Green Community Project – It was reported that there was possible private interest being expressed in developing this block. The Society would look further into this report but also noted that the block was actually owned by the Council.
7. Diana Holl-Allen representing the Knowle Councillors assured the meeting that the Local Development Framework would be seeking a lot of input from the community; she also stressed that if the community does not respond then decisions will be imposed upon it. She also reported that Council Tax is to be frozen for the next year and that the cemetery at Widney Manor is to be expanded.
8. Knowle Library – it was reported that the relationship with the library service over our Saturday afternoon opening arrangements is becoming increasingly positive and further developments are anticipated. Some 700 people have used this facility in which a 70% were children.
9. Christmas Lights – the condition and quantity of the remaining tree lights was such that it was agreed that enquiries would be made about the purchase of new LED lights.
10. One much valued committee member resignation was noted and two new ones were approved.
11. The future of the former bypass land and the lack of a potential walking link between Longdon Road and this land; the Society’s continued interest in being willing to assist with the Streamside Trust and the difficulty in selecting a suitable place for planting of a Jubilee tree in the autumn land was discussed. Solihull Council had expressed its willingness to cooperate in the planting a tree.
The letter in the attachment to this news item was sent to Solihull Council by The Knowle Society today, 7 December 2011, in response to the Planning Application for a new food store in Knowle for Waitrose.