Mitch Withey from Heronfield Animal Rescue Centre on Warwick Road then spoke about the fauna on the site which will be displaced by the proposed development, in particular the Badgers who live there.
Steve Verrall, the owner of Batts Hall gave a personal statement about the considerable impact the view from his new home will suffer.
Stella Jarman was next to talk on the flora on the site a harm on the historic landscape and hedgerows which the landscaping and planting proposals will have.
Leighton Jones representing the Knowle Society gave a very reasoned argument explaining why they and the greater residents of Knowle thought the marina was a bad idea and would be of little benefit to our local community. Leighton was able to draw in facts gained from a survey of local businesses, a survey of boat owners at the Black Boy Cruising Club and a survey of boats using the locks. One of the tests which this development must pass is that the benefits outweigh the harm.
Ian West who lives at Bottom Lock Cottage gave a short presentation – he is a boater himself and but appeared to be ambivalent about a marina at this location – yes he felt moorings were needed but he was concerned about the noise this development might generate and the impact this would have on his home. His intervention may well be key in gaining a concession on the use of power tools at the site.
In the afternoon Mr Greenway, the appellant’s expert witness on landscape and visual impact, started his evidence. He struggled during the cross-examination by Ms Sharif to justify some of the proposals and suggested that some of the plans would need amending, perhaps after permission was granted.
Day three and Mr Greenway was back for “re-direct” questioning by Mr Cahill. This didn’t take long
Public witnesses then continued – Mr Johnson from Heronfield hire spoke passionately about his concerns for flooding, dismissing the EA statements of reassurance on the subject as people who didn’t know what actually happens on the ground.
Gill Akehurst who lives near the site, spoke of her strong concerns for safety and security, particularly for her two young children who currently are able to use the yard and access track to the farm as a play ground – it is currently a cul-de-sac leading to three houses, but with the development it will have 50 – 70 vehicles an hour going up and down it at a weekend.
Gill Griggs a resident of Knowle gave a detailed and in some places technical argument about how the proposed development would be harmful to the green belt and how the evidence submitted by the appellant did not meet the various planning policy statements and guidelines.
Anne Wilson Ramsey who lives on the Warwick Road spoke next. She gave a very reasoned argument about how the appellant’s case did not meet planning guidelines; she mentioned the need for inclusive access, which the developer has failed to show; she argued how, living at the end of the village and immediately adjacent to the start of the green belt, horses are part of the pleasant agricultural scene (the developer had been trying to argue that the gallops in the field adjacent to the marina site were urbanising and hence, would set a precedent for development in the area. She drew the inspector’s attention to the 160 signature petition which she organised and which demonstrates the strength of local opinion. Other points raised by her included the locally listed Knowle Locks as well as the other Nationally listed buildings, The Manor House, the cottages on Kenilworth Road, etc.
Roger Buxton was the last person to speak. He presented a paper on local need within Solihull for moorings and compared this with findings from walking all the canals in Solihull to see precisely how many berths are currently available. This showed that there are more moorings than boat owners in Solihull. Roger then went on to describe that the real need was for residential moorings in urban locations for people who wish to live full time on their boats – this is something the proposed marina does not and cannot offer. His evidence as a former boater was very helpful.
In addition to all the above presentations the inspector spent some time (two full afternoons) visiting the site and numerous “receptor” locations including:
Stripes Hill Farm where five houses front onto the access road;
1724 Warwick Road to see the limit of the green belt and the currently unspoilt rural outlook – with a plea not to allow creeping expansion of the urban area;
170 Kenilworth Road to see how much of the marina can be seen from a typical view point affecting all the residents along the south side of the road;
Top Lock View and a walk down the tow path to just beyond the marina, including climbing over the locks and down the western side on the grass picnic area;
Home Farm – they see the site clearly from their yard and their upstairs rooms;
Watery Lane & Cuttle Pool Lane & footpath;