The Council has now submitted the Local Plan to the Secretary of State (via the Planning Inspectorate) for examination.
The Plan and associated documents can be found here.
An Independent Planning Inspector will be appointed to undertake the examination and this will include a series of hearings, called an Examination in Public.
Following these hearings, the Inspector is able to suggest modifications to the plan in order for it to be sound, if so there will be an opportunity for any modifications to be published to seek views on their soundness.
If this stage is necessary it will be subject to a further report to Cabinet and Full Council.
At the conclusion of the examination the Inspector issues his/her final report which then allows the Council to adopt the plan if it is found to be sound and legally compliant. Adoption of the plan is by resolution from Full Council.
It is likely that an Inspector will be appointed by mid-June and that the hearings will take place later in the year.
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.
The Council recognises that residential backland developments [‘windfall’ sites in already developed areas such as back gardens] have a role to play in delivering housing targets for the borough. However, they also have the potential of creating significant adverse impacts in the communities where they are located. It has therefore published a Supplementary Planning Document which is intended to explain how backland and related infill developments can be designed to protect and enhance existing residential areas. It is asking for comments on this document before adopting it as part of the planning rules.