Tuesday, 29 November 2011

DDRA boss expects Sainsbury's approval

COUNCILLORS have little reason to throw out a Sainsbury’s plan for Dorridge tomorrow night, the chairman of the Dorridge and District Residents Association (DDRA) has said.

Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council’s (SMBC) planning committee will be asked to make a decision on the plan tomorrow night. The Silhillian will report the news as soon as possible on Twitter.

The meeting starts at 4.30pm in the council chamber, next to Touchwood, but the Sainsbury’s plan will not be heard until 6pm at the earliest, the council said.

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Mr Spencer, who has backed the controversial plan for Forest Court, said councillors had little evidence to reject the scheme.

He wrote on The Silhillian: “The committee will be very nervous and will feel that they can only take a decision based on evidence.”

Council staff have put in “a lot of effort” to check data supplied by Sainsbury’s around issues such as traffic predictions, he said.

He said national planning guidance is “not a lot of help” in determining an appropriate store size. The Sainsbury’s sales area would be almost four times the size of Knowle Tesco.

Mr Spencer also said there is a “big hole in policy” which means the council cannot order Sainsbury’s to provide more car parking than the 175 proposed.

Expert reports commissioned by the DDRA showed there is “not a case to be made on traffic levels, the road system has the capacity to support the store”.

He said: “That is not to say that there wouldn't be a noticeable increase in traffic, but the committee would need convincing evidence that the traffic increase would be unacceptable.

“I couldn't find numbers that supported that, aside from the change to Sundays.”

Controversial moves by the Government to make planning permission approval the default option of “sustainable” plans carries “significant weight” he said.

He said: “‘I don't like it’ is not grounds for SMBC to reject - SMBC need solid facts to work with.”

If numbers are not produced that conflict with Sainsbury’s then councillors “aren't going to be able to reject it without feeling that they are taking a massive gamble”.

Sainsbury’s can appeal to the national Planning Inspectorate if the plan is rejected. If it then wins, the council could have to pay with the firm’s legal bills.

While Mr Spencer said he is “not fond at all of supermarkets” the “reality is that however much we may moan about them, the nation has voted with their feet and use supermarkets”

He said in another post: “It is easy to demonise Sainsbury’s and be cynical about their approach, but they’ve been pretty straight with us, and whenever they have been challenged, they have listened and reviewed.”

Mr Spencer said: “We are more confident that the scheme will work.”

In a statement to The Silhillian, Meriden MP Caroline Spelman said: ““I agree with many that Forest Court needs intervention to breathe new life into the village centre but I also agree that any development should take into account the nature of the village and allow for local businesses to thrive.

“There are strong feelings both for and against the proposed store and so I await the planning committee’s decision with great interest.”

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  1. Dorridge road resident29 November 2011 at 08:49

    On balance I would rather have a store big enough to do my weekly shop, and I hope the additional people coming into the area mean the new, and existing, independent outlets can thrive.

    I have some concerns about traffic/congestion but hope something could be done by extending one of the Chiltern car parks at a later date if needs be.

    I welcome the revised plans.

  2. Agree with above - hope it goes through without any problems and we can all look to the future

  3. In 2 years everyone will wonder what all the fuss was about !

  4. Too true ...we will all wonder why we have to pay a parking fee to use the Chiltern car park in order to visit the doctor....progress ....I don't think so.

  5. 10.30 Possibly right as some of us who are against the proposal will have left.

    I shall be incredibly disappointed but not shocked if it is approved.

    I despair at the way some residents are keen to support dramatic changes to the village's infrastructure etc., without seemingly caring about those who will be directly affected by such alterations, from school children, doctors patients to neighbouring residents.
    This does not reflect well on Dorridge as a community. A sad time for Dorridge.

  6. The residents in Knowle are so lucky to have the Knowle Society actually striving to protect their quality of life. We have to put up with Ian Spencer ( who lives in a nice little cul-de-sac tucked away from the traffic) who has rolled over like a labrador and allowed sainsbury to "tickle his tummy".

  7. TO ANON: The residents of Knowle already have a thriving community with small independent retailers and a Tesco store. We have a rotting centre that was half empty many years before Sainsburys came along. Get real - unless you are happy with the village becoming a dormitory community and dying from the inside out it will take a large organisation to bring in the investement needed to re-vitalise our village centre. I want something a bit better for my kids. PS: stop being so petty about supporters (of whom there are many). You just come across as a nasty little bully.

  8. 11.11 - very well said. I also hope that Sainsburys get permission this time. Something positive has to happen within Dorridge!!!!!!

  9. I'm not sure if I will be able to tweet updates from the meeting because of technical issues but I will do my best. Certainly there will be a tweet when the decision comes through and a full report that night.

  10. I really hope this store gets the go ahead.
    I will laugh as I see all of the roads around dorridge grind to a halt, litter and trolleys everywhere house prices tumble Avenue road getting some much needed traffic flow and all the small businesses who support this stores going bust yes for me this will be a great day.

  11. Not all black and white29 November 2011 at 12:47

    I think it's sad that this has been allowed to polarise opinion.

    The reality is that the DROVS and DDRA are fairly close to agreement. Both want a store here. Both think there are concerns with the current plan, especially around traffic and parking.

    (We all know the risks: a surgery sharing a carpark with a busy store; non Sainsbury's shoppers potentially forced to use a distant car park; traffic funnelled down a small number of (residential) roads; trucks delivering down narrow roads and at silly times.

    The difference is that DROVS believe that the only way to force Sainsbury's to come up with something safer and more suitable is to oppose the current plan. I really want a store, but this seems logical to me!

    If Sainsbury's work with us all, it will be third time lucky and we could still have a nice new safer store (and surgery) ready to open in 2013, without falling out with one another.

  12. non sainsbury's shoppers can park in the sainsbury's car park as long as it isn't for more than 2 hours
    Trucks will be delivivering at sensible times - not clashing with schools and the delivery yard is now enclosed to reduce noise - also - it has always been a delivery yard so there is no change in use or access only that as the shopping centre died so did the no of deliveries.
    No evidence WHATSOEVER that this plan is 'unsafe'
    Sainsbury's have worked with the community - the dual carriageway that DROVS said 'must be retained' is being, the sales area reduced by 25%, delivery yard covered, local businesses and doctor's surgery consulted - and they're happy.
    And will the DROVS store mean there isn't extra traffic, deliveries etc., building work going on in the centre - obviously the answer is no.
    To above - I want the development so your idea of third time lucky is not at all what I or many other residents want.

  13. 12:47 - a sensible post. Only flaw is what happens if/when Sainsbury's walk away? There is no Plan B and no 'white knight' investor waiting in the wings to step in with a smaller option. Neither DDRA or DROVS are bigger than Sainsburys and we shouldn't assume their patience is elastic. We would have benfited from DROVS and the DDRA working as one. Feels to me like DROVS never really positively engaged with Sainsburys, went to war against the DDRA and ran a negative campaign that alienated many residents. In so doing we all missed an opportunity to speak as one to shape the final plan.

  14. Not all black and white29 November 2011 at 13:34

    DROVS' planning consultants - formerly of Solihull MBC - who understand this sort of aplication from both sides of the fence have said there is no question that Sainsbury's would walk away, having invested so much already.

    There is no shame in coming up with a "third-time lucky" set of plans that minimises risk - e.g. to patients at the surgery and perhaps limits deliveries to daytime hours.

    I alos know that DROVS has not missed any opportunities to engage with Sainsbury's - they have written numerous letters, attended every workshop they were invited to and meet with Sainsbury's team over the summer for more than three hours. However, as relfected in their recetn questions to the company, there was no compromise or clarity from Sainsbury's.

    Again - there is no need to polarise opinion or bash the opposition. It is too late for that.

  15. 13:34. Fair push back on my post. I trust you but DROVS will have a lot to answer for if there is no third time lucky!

  16. Not all black and white29 November 2011 at 13:49

    Agreed 13:34. And DDRA will have a lot to answer to if the chaos does ensue. I'd say both scenarios are fairry unlikely though :)

  17. Wish DROVS had not been so negative. They do not know the meaning of compromise - We want this size store regardless is not compromise.
    Sainsbury's will appeal and get this with SMBC paying the legal costs if it doesn't go through tomorrow. Worst case scenario they sit on the land but unlikely. Third time lucky just pie in the sky.

  18. Great scheme - I'll bet you'll all be in there using the new doctor's, new supermarket, new units whatever you say now.
    Hope all goes through tomorrow

  19. Sainsbury don't know the meaning of compromise....this proposal is only 1% smaller.

  20. may I remind all those DROVS bashers again that had they not put their time and effort into this, Dorridge would by now have a glass, metal and clad monstosity at its heart. This plan is better but is still too big for the size of the plot. Will be interesting to see what happens to the Solihull store once Dorridge is open!!

  21. Drovs bashers against bashing29 November 2011 at 20:18

    In my opinion EVEN the "glass metal and clad monstrosity" would have been better than nothing at all/what is there!

    Please understand that no-one would bash DROVS had so many of its (vocal) members not adopted such an aggressive and therefore misguided stance.

    In response to my arguments in favour I have been variously accused of
    1.taking bribes from sainsburys,
    2.being an employee of sainburys,
    3. being thick (I spelled a word wrong in a post)
    4. not living in the area,
    5. not having children (otherwise how could I put their safety at risk with the increase in traffic?)
    6. having no memory (of what is was like before)
    7. being blind
    8. not knowing what a village is (in response to my view that Dorridge has out-grown this status)
    9. wanting to concrete over the whole of the centre
    10. being anti small-shops

    Really constructive, thanks.

  22. Sainsbury's won't walk away. I doubt they ever expect this to go through.
    In most business deals one always starts from a high point so as to leave room to negotiate and then both parties feel that a compromise has been reached and everyone is happy! Sadly DDRA appear to have lost their nerve a little this time.

  23. I agree they might not walk away - worse still they might just sit on the land and do nothing. The main supermarkets adopt this strategy nationwide; better for them to hold the site and do nothing, than allow a competitor in. (aka Asda and Shirley)

  24. Their competitors have already looked at the site and decided they couldnt make it pay so theres no risk there!

  25. ....so Sainsbury's do genuinely need a larger store then ......

  26. Yes, in which to fit Justin King's sunbed and massive ego

  27. because they paid too much for the site.