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Monitoring planning applications and seeking the best outcome

Taylor Wimpey – proposed development NE of Hertford Way PL2015/52196/PPFL

The Society wrote to SMBC on 5th November 2015 about this application as follows:

Dear Ms Bishop

I am advised that you are the Case Officer in respect of the above application.

The applicant has carried out pre-application consultation with residents and The Knowle Society of which I am the Chairman of the own planning committee.

I have already advised Mr Simon Tuffin, the applicant’s agent, of our concerns as follows:

The plot size relative to house footprint is too small; proximity to existing trees causing excessive shadowing on the gardens; relatively small houses to achieve an increased density which does not create a ‘development with space’; narrow road widths which, with the lack of adequate off-road parking will lead to street parking causing obstructions in the road; a road layout which, following an amendment to the original drawing inspected, now does include a few curves although it does not produce a scheme which is more in keeping with existing housing developments in Knowle.

In addition, the relatively small number of apartments of which there are none with one-bedroom available for market sales is a serious concern as it raises the starting point of those able to afford market prices to an unacceptably high level.

We have further items of concern since my advising Mr Tuffin of the above which are another consequence of the narrow road widths reduces the ability of manoeuvring large vehicles, especially rubbish collection lorries, where cars will be parked on the road rather than the preferable off-road; the layout of the houses following the straight lines of the roads will, as a consequence of the csite being relatively level and so losing the opportunity of steps in-between ground floor levels, by definition produce an excessive appearance of ‘regimentation’ – there has been no attempt made to break up this appearance by staggers between individual dwellings or in a terrace.

Finally the layout does not identify the location of the provision for individual houses wheelie bins which, for blocks of apartments, could mean large bins designed to be shared by the occupants. This lack of foresight will result in an afterthought, probably during construction, when the resulting solution will be seen as what it will be, a lack of proper consideration required for modern residential development.

Consequently the application as currently proposed does not, in the opinion of The Knowle Society, meet the requirements of Policy P15 of the Solihull Local Plan (2013).

One further point is that it is not clear if the provision of the affordable element of the development is to be made by solely a Residential Social Landlord or also by a private landlord. A private landlord would offer relevant properties to local people (ie from Knowle) at a 30% discount off market prices for shared ownership or market rent for rented accommodation. If this provision is not intended by the Applicant then The Knowle Society also objects on the basis of a complete lack of provision to satisfy the local demand of accommodation at affordable prices which, I recall, was the intention of the Council’s recent Policy Statement for the provision of Affordable Housing throughout the Borough.

In the absence of information relating to our concerns of this application, we ask the Applicant reconsider the details and make appropriate amendments before the Council’s Planning Committee’s consideration or, failing such response, the Application be recommended for refusal to the Planning Committee.

Detailed planning approval for the scheme was granted on 1st August 2014. An amendment to this plan was then submitted later by the applicant. Currently the Knowle development proposal is “on hold for now”, however it is understood that Waitrose still plans to go ahead with its new Solihull store proposal.

17 June 2015 – A spokesman from Waitrose stated “The well documented changes in trading patterns across the supermarket sector have impacted the viability of the planned Waitrose in Knowle and sadly it has been necessary to put our plans on hold for now whilst we continue to monitor market conditions.

Our aspiration to deliver a quality food store which will help the village continue to thrive remains the same, however we do not feel it would be fair to residents to start work without absolute confidence of when it will open.

We recognise the delay will cause some disappointment and frustration, which we share. This is not a decision we have taken lightly and we are grateful to local people for their understanding. The intention of Waitrose and the developer, Kimberley, is still to make a major investment and make a positive contribution to Knowle in the future.”

All local (Knowle) planning applications are reviewed by the Planning Committee of The Knowle Society. Applications for elsewhere in, or surrounding, the Borough of Solihull may also be reviewed where the impact of these plans is thoughts to impinge upon the village of Knowle. Particular consideration is given to any applications for development within the Knowle Conservation Area. Changes to private residential properties are NOT generally included.

Applications are listed with comments from The Knowle Society and an indication of the status of the application through Solihull MBC. Currently not being updated – Last update – 23 August 2011.