At the meeting of Solihull Council Planning Committee last night the application to demolish the garden centre and replace it with an ‘Extra-Care Facility’ was REFUSED.
The reasons given were:- 1. The proposed Extra Care Facility represents inappropriate development in the Green Belt. The Extra Care Facility would cause harm by definition to the Green Belt, have a significantly greater harm to openness and to the character and appearance of the Green Belt compared to the existing garden centre and other harm. The very special circumstances put forward by the applicant in support of the proposal do not clearly outweigh the harm to the Green Belt by reason of inappropriateness and the other harm resulting from the proposal.
The proposed development is therefore contrary to Policy P17 of the Solihull Local Plan, Policy VC1 of The Knowle, Dorridge and Bentley Heath Neighbourhood Plan and guidance in the National Planning Policy Framework.
2. The proposed development does not promote the use of sustainable modes of transport when travelling to and from the application site and it is therefore likely that the development will be car dominant.
The development therefore fails to comply with Policy P7 of the Solihull Local Plan, Policy T3 of the Knowle, Dorridge Bentley Heath Neighbourhood Plan and paragraphs 108 and 110 of the NPPF.
3. The proposed development by reason of its scale, massing and disposition would impose a dramatic change to the character and appearance of the site causing additional urbanisation of the site that would have an adverse effect on the rural character and appearance of the area compared to the existing garden centre.
This would be contrary to Policy P15 and P17 of the Solihull Local Plan and Policy D1 of the Knowle, Dorridge and Bentley Heath Neighbourhood Plan.
In accordance with the resolution from Council, the next step in the process is the submission of the plan to the Secretary of State (via the Planning Inspectorate). Arrangements are currently being made for the representations to be reviewed before a decision is made to submit the plan.
Once this decision has been taken we will let you know that the plan has been submitted, share the plan and outline the timeline for the rest of the Local Plan process.
The Society has formally responded to the proposals as follows:- We fully support investment in the development of safe cycling and walking routes in order to achieve a long term reduction in car use.
We are cognizant that the emergence of e-cycles presents an opportunity for wider use of cycling for commuting, shopping and leisure journeys, providing people consider routes to be safe to use.
We recognize that a safe route for cycling from Knowle to Solihull Town Centre is in the above context highly likely to generate demand for use and achieve migration from car use to cycling, thus relieving pressure on Solihull Town Centre infrastructure as well as reducing carbon footprint.
Nevertheless, we consider that the proposals outlined in this consultation do not represent a satisfactory safe route along the Warwick Road between the Wychwood Avenue junction and ‘south of the M42’, which is a critical element of the proposal, for the following reasons:
The present cycle lanes along Warwick Road are not used generally by Knowle residents because they are not considered safe, the road being insufficiently wide for two large vehicles to pass confidently without straying into the cycle lanes. A high percentage of vehicles traveling between these points and vice versa currently fail to stay out of the cycle lanes and larger vehicles regularly do so along much of its length.
Placing temporary obstacles between the cycle lanes and the vehicle lanes, as proposed by the consultation, will not engender greater confidence for use. Whilst the aspiration may be to calm traffic, we foresee that the reality would be collisions between large vehicles and those barriers with a consequential risk to cyclists.
Confidence to use a cycle lane along this section will only be achieved if a more substantial barrier between cycles and vehicles is provided, for example, raised kerbs, which no doubt require a widening of the carriageway. Whilst recognising that this would be a far more expensive and permanent solution, we take the view that the provision of this temporary approach would be a fruitless deployment of public finance.
Furthermore, the option of an alternative route via Knowle Park and Newton Road between Knowle Village Centre and Wychwood Avenue would be wholly unsatisfactory. In particular, Newton Road is a narrower road than most in Knowle and any safe separation of cyclists and vehicles would be impossible to achieve.
Accordingly, we advocate that further consideration be given to this matter before proceeding.
In line with the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown, Solihull Libraries have reopened for a ‘Grab and Go’ service. The idea behind the Grab and Go service is that visitors minimise their time at the library by keeping browsing to under 30 minutes and selecting books for borrowing quickly.
In addition, the Libraries Service offer – up to 45 minutes of essential computer use (no printing) up to 10 items loaned for three weeks children’s activities at some sites – but tickets need to be ordered in advance. outside café table service at The Core The Click and Collect service will continue and customers can return outstanding items on loan to any library site during opening hours. There are currently no fines for overdue books but if members would like reminders about overdue items they need to ensure that their email details are up to date.
Will GP appointments return to ‘normal’ after the pandemic? How would additional housing affect the provision GP services for Knowle?
Our guest speaker for the fourth in our series of webinars entitled ‘Forseeable Future’ will be Dr Mike Baker, Strategic Director of GPS Healthcare (Knowle Surgery) and Primary Care Lead for the Birmingham and Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group.
Having covered the future for housing, traffic and education in our first three sessions, sign up here for the fourth at as the spotlight swings onto local health provision.