Thursday, 4 August 2011

Schools raise Sainsbury's fears

SCHOOLS in Knowle and Dorridge have raised fears about pupil safety over a Sainsbury's plan for Dorridge.

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Arden school and Dorridge Nursery and Infant School said they were concerned that extra vehicles from the Forest Court plan would put youngsters at risk.

Sainsbury's last month submitted a planning application to Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council to knock down Forest Court for the store and six other shop units and a restaurant.

Of the 176 parents who responded to a junior and infant school questionnaire, 83 per cent opposed the development with 73 per cent backing a store similar to Tesco in Knowle.

Some 88 per cent thought noise would rise, 82 per cent thought Station Road would be less safe for pedestrians and 31 per cent would be less likely to walk to school (see comments thread for full consultation results).

Of the respondents, 86 per cent backed traffic calming with 51 per cent in favour of speed bumps and 74 per cent in favour of a 20mph speed limit.

The letter, from the governing body, said: “We are concerned that the proposed development will result in fewer people walking or cycling to school because of the real or perceived increased danger resulting from a greater volume of traffic and increased air pollution.”

Parents concerns include insufficient parking, lorries using Station Road and disruption during works.

The letter said: “We are particularly concerned about the impact on the future health and safety of the children.

“The increased traffic flow on Station Road which is a relatively narrow carriageway bordered by two narrow pavements, will inevitably increase the risk of a road traffic accident occurring.”

It said Sainsbury's plans only focus on the immediate area around Forest Court “and appear to ignore the impact of increased traffic flow along the length of Station Road from Knowle to Dorridge”.

The letter says: “We would urge you to give priority to environmental and health and safety considerations and reject the current proposal.”

A letter from Arden chairman of Governors Dr Celia O'Donovan said members are concerned “about the safety of Arden pupils walking along Station Road”.

She said: “The pavements are very narrow and the road is a very busy artery connecting Knowle and Dorridge.

“We are worried that the increased traffic flow that might result from any planned developments in the area would seriously impact on the safety of our children and we would like reassurance that our concerns will be taken seriously before any planning decisions are made.

“We are delighted that most of our children, counter to national trends, take the opportunity to walk to school and would not like to see this healthy activity being negatively affected by parental concerns about safety on Station Road.”

Meanwhile the Dorridge Residents Opposed to Village Superstore campaign group said it has seen a “huge surge in support”.

It said its online “wall of support” has risen from 660 to 900 people in the last four weeks. The online wall shows 756 names.

In a press release, a spokesman said: “It’s heartening to hear from to so many new supporters. Clearly, the more people see of the plans, the more it’s dawning that they’re not right for Dorridge.

“One man rang to thank us for pointing out the car-park is on the roof of the store, which wasn’t clear in the Sainsbury’s drawings.

“And scores of residents who live near the site have been in touch with concerns about parking spilling out on to residential roads.”

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