Text of letter from the Society to SMBC Planning re. Marina application

The Knowle Society has written to the Head of Design and Development, Mr. G. Palmer, regarding the Stripes Hill Marina application and the text of that letter is reproduced here.

STRIPES HILL FARM MARINA (2009/494)

We are glad that this application will now be considered on the basis of a full planning application, it is important that both marina applications are considered on an equal basis. I would like to reiterate and expand our views of this application as outlined in my letter of 1st August.

We object to this application on the following grounds:-

– The loss of Green Belt land and the impact on the surroundings of Knowle Locks.

This area below Knowle Locks is much appreciated by the residents of and visitors to Knowle. The applicant asserts that the proposed development meets the requirements for being a suitable development in the Green Belt as permitted by the ‘special circumstances’ conditions. Regardless of this, it is our view that it would constitute a development that would cause harm to the Green Belt in an area where its impact would be very obvious.

In addition to the simple fact of its presence, the planned size of the development and the ‘massing’ of the boats and the support facilities are such that they would form a very noticeable development, replacing an area of undeveloped landscape.

– The proposed entrance to the access road off the Warwick Road is unsatisfactory and unsafe.

The location of this entrance is close to the bottom of Stripes Hill. While this stretch of road is subject to a 40mph speed limit, residents and councillors will be very aware that this is honoured more in the breach than the observance. The applicant’s own survey in the transport supporting statement shows that 63% of southbound traffic (coming down the hill) exceeds 40mph and 5% exceeds 50mph. This situation must be acknowledged. The entrance, even with the proposed widening, will not allow a vehicle coming down the hill to move entirely off the road if a vehicle is waiting to exit the site. You will of course be aware that this exit will be used not only for the proposed marina, but also for Stripes Hill Farm and that it lies directly opposite the access to Lansdowne Farm. We propose that a short exit lane is built on the north side of the entrance, where there is space available, to allow traffic to pull out of the running lane.

We now know that permission has been given for the continued use of a building at Stripes Hill Farm itself as storage for imported furniture. This will involve the delivery of the goods by articulated vehicles, which will be using the same entrance off the Warwick Road as marina users. This must necessarily increase the hazard for cars wishing to access the marina site, as these large vehicles will block the entrance, causing cars to stop on the Warwick Road.

– We are also concerned that the promoters of the marina have indicated on their web-site (http://www.knowlelocksmarina.co.uk/facilities.html) that:-

“We also hope to include the following: – Brokerage office and boats to view for new and second hand boat sales – A resident boat hire fleet with booking office”

This indicates a significant increase in the commercial activities on the site, which in itself would change the character of the development. The latter proposal would also indicate a significant increase in traffic flow into the site, especially on Sundays, when the base flow would be highest anyway. It would also go against the statement in the application that:-

“Access: Access to the site will be restricted to marina users only. Gates are to be placed near the entrance to the marina which can be opened only by key fob or by staff on site. The site is not to be made available for access to the general public in order to ensure site security and health and safety.”

(http://www.solihull.gov.uk/PlanAppDocs/2009/0494/0494_site_management_pl…)

We acknowledge the information from the developers that the site will be ‘for marina users only’. However this category will necessarily include visitors who are looking to hire, or have hired, boats thus increasing the number accessing the site, all through the one unsatisfactory entrance. In addition the developers have now suggested that use of part of the proposed chandlery building could be used for exhibitions to be ‘used, via prior appointment, by local groups and schools to promote water safety and marine education’. These all point to encouragement for increased use of the site and therefore the access off the Warwick Road.

– The application includes a statement that residential use of the site is to be restricted to 2 boats for use of staff. If planning permission is granted we would ask that this be made a legally enforceable condition, as mentioned in the above site management plan. There should also be a responsibility placed on the operators of the site to demonstrate to the Council that the condition is being met at any and all times.

I trust these objections and observations will assist your Committee in their deliberations.

Leighton Jones Chairman, Knowle Society Planning Committee

Copy to:-

Councillor Diana Holl-Allen; Councillor Jeff Potts; Councillor Alan Rebeiro