Saturday, 1 October 2011

Cut back Knowle home plans, society urges

HOUSING plans for Knowle must be scaled back, a conservation group has warned, to stop “severe increased pressure” on the village’s infastructure.

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The Knowle Society said up to two of three sites proposed for homes should be scrapped in favour of housing in surrounding villages.

It said too many homes had been allocated for Knowle and Dorridge by Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council.

The council is drawing up a plan of where it will allow major home developments to be built up to 2026, which in the Knowle and Dorridge area are:

• 100 homes to the back of Knowle Primary School, off Hampton Lane.
• 90 homes at Middlefield, at the back of Arden School.
• 150 homes at Four Ashes Lane, Bentley Health.

The society said 340 of the 390 proposed homes in the borough’s rural area are in or neighbouring Knowle and villages like Barston and Chadwick End could take pressure off.

In a letter to the council, society planning committee chairman Leighton Jones said: “If this policy were followed it would be possible to remove one or possibly two of the currently listed sites in the Knowle area from the current allocation.”

The Middlefield site should be removed, he said.

He warned: “Even the development of two sites would place severe increased pressure on the infrastructure of Knowle and its neighbours.

“In particular we identify schooling, medical services, the road network and village centre car parking as major concerns due to the increase in population that additional housing would bring.”

“Significant commercial development” has been proposed for the village, a Waitrose store on a former bowling green by The Red Lion car park, and would “add significantly to the overload of the infrastructure” Mr Jones said.

The society has previously warned the plans would swell the village’s 10,000 population by 1,000.

The Four Ashes plan – opposite The Drum and Monkey pub – had “the least direct impact on Knowle” and was therefore “the most acceptable to our community”.

It is close to a primary school and basic shopping facilities and has access to Solihull and the Stratford Road, he said.

The society’s next choice for development is the site off Hampton Road, as it close to Knowle.

But Mr Jones said of the Middlefield site: “Access is difficult, the internal roads are not suitable for extended use, it is some distance away from any public transport and any facilities, so these factors would encourage car use.”

Only people with a “connection to Knowle” should get affordable homes to be included in developments, he said, and education, health and leisure facilities must be expanded to cope.

He also pledged to submit a list of spaces in the village which must be protected from future development.

The council began drawing up the housing plan – part of its “core strategy” scheme – to meet Labour housing targets.

These targets were scrapped by the coalition Government but the council pressed ahead with its plan, saying the borough was in desperate need of housing.

It hopes the plan will also make it easier to throw out developers’ proposals for sites not in the document, as it can argue it has carefully earmarked where homes should go.

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