Saturday, 14 November 2009

Conservation group opposes Knowle marina plan

A CONSERVATION group has told planning chiefs that plans for a marina off Knowle’s canal must not be allowed.

The Knowle Society said the impact of the Stripes Hill development, for 223 berths and a new access road, would be “very obvious”.

In a letter to Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council, which has the final say on the plans, Leighton Jones said its location in protected Green Belt would be unacceptable.

Developer Somerville Homes says should be allowed under “very special circumstances” law, though council planning officer Julia Sykes disagrees. Councillors have the final say.

Mr Jones, chairman of the society’s planning committee, wrote: “This area below Knowle Locks is much appreciated by the residents of and visitors to Knowle.

He said: “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.”

It would form a “very noticeable development” he said, and added the proposed access road is “unsatisfactory and unsafe”.

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And he said most people broke the 40mph speed limit on the Warwick Road. A survey by the developer found 89 out of 129 vehicles were over the limit.

Mr Jones wrote: “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.”

He added: “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.”

And he said plans for an office would “indicate a significant increase in traffic flow into the site, especially on Sundays, when the base flow would be highest anyway.

He is supported by most residents who have left comments on the council’s website.

Five oppose the move with one supporting. RW Buxton wrote: “As the land is green belt this will just be residential development by another name.”

Another marina scheme is proposed for the canal near Jacobean Lane. Signs have been placed in gardens opposing the plan – while similar signs support it (see picture).

But a planning consultants’ report on behalf of the developer said the negatives are “clearly outweighed by other considerations” and refusal would “not be the end of the storey” [sic].

It says throwing out the plan would “undermine the future and viability” of the Grand Union canal and regeneration, tourism and conservation.

The plan would encourage people to use waterways and contribute to the local economy through spending and job creation, the report says. It would also tackle flood risk, it adds.

A decision must be made by December 28. It is not on the agenda for this month’s meeting of the planning committee. A similar plan was submitted and withdrawn last year.