Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Knowle marina appeal rejected

A MARINA plan for Stripes Hill in Knowle has been thrown out on appeal.

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The Planning Inspectorate said the plans for berths for 223 boats in the Green Belt at Stripes Hill Farm, off the Warwick Road, would damage the open countryside.

The plan was rejected by Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council in December 2009 over its impact on the Green Belt, despite the council’s planning officer recommending approval.

It also rejected at the same time a 140 berth marina plan off the Grand Union Canal off Jacobean Lane. An appeal against this also failed, in August.

A seven-day public inquiry was held in Solihull over the Stripes Hill plan – for a 210mx120m basin - in July.

Planning inspector Elizabeth Hill said: “The proposed development would be harmful to the purposes of including land in the Green Belt, specifically encroachment into the
countryside.”

It said new embankments “would be incongruous additions” and the marina would be a “large artificial feature”.

She said: “The visual impact and levels of activity at the marina would be likely to have an adverse effect on the enjoyment of the local countryside, which is valued by local people.”

She added: “Any benefits of the scheme would be to the users of the marina rather than having wider benefit.

“It would not make a positive contribution to its setting, nor better reveal its significance.”

A petition of 162 names opposed the scheme, to also feature parking for 106 vehicles, an access track, amenities building and a boat maintenance area.

Meriden MP Caroline Spelman opposed the plan.

Yet the planning inspector rejected some residents’ concerns about cars turning into the site, at the bottom of the hill leaving Knowle.

There would be “sufficient visibility at the junction” she said.

British Waterways has argued for marinas to create less congestion on canals and free up spaces for boats mooring overnight.

Developer Mehdi Modiri, of Somerville Homes Ltd, argued that demand for boats was rising but this was not borne out by figures, the inquiry found.

And it largely dismissed arguments that the plan would “regenerate” the area, given the scale of the economic downturn.

And it said: “Knowle is not an area in need of regeneration.

“The areas of Birmingham most in need of regeneration and employment are some distance away and therefore this proposal is unlikely to benefit them.”

Mrs Spelman said today: “I was delighted to hear the decision which shows that the Inspector has placed a high value on the protection of the Green Belt and on local residents’ wishes."

She said: “This kind of development was opposed by many residents as they felt that it could radically alter the countryside.

"I am very pleased that the inspector agreed, saying that any benefits of the scheme would be to the users of the marina rather than having wider benefit."

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