Thursday, 24 November 2011

Dorridge Sainsbury's decision next week

COUNCILLORS will be asked to make a decision on a Sainsbury’s plan for Dorridge next week, it has been confirmed – and a council report has recommended approval.

Dorridge - Aerial - FINAL



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Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council’s planning committee will consider the scheme for Forest Court on Wednesday at 4.30pm. The public are welcome to attend.

A report to the committee by a council planning officer recommends members approve the plan.

The Silhillian will be tweeting live from the meeting to bring you the result as soon as it happens.

They said it would “revitalise a currently under utilised part of Dorridge local centre that is in need of regeneration”.

The committee threw out a plan for a 2,462sqm sales area store in March last year over concerns about highway safety and the store’s size.

The officer had recommended approval. The committee can approve, refuse or defer the plan.

But the latest report says the new 1,812sqm sales area scheme is “appropriate for a local centre, yet still provides for the retail needs” of the area.

There is an “apparent lack of market interest in Forest Court” and the plan would “complement” the area and “increase its attractiveness and sense of place” it said.

It said council highway engineers did not object and it “is not expected to cause unacceptable traffic impact to the surrounding area”.

The report said the 175 proposed parking spaces are “sufficient” and the scheme “in line with local and national planning policies”.

The scheme proposes an extension to the Dorridge Practice doctors’ surgery, six retail units, two kiosks, a restaurant and roof car parking with access from Avenue Road.

The store would be dug into the ground and the service yard would be enclosed.

It would open seven days a week from 8am to 10pm with deliveries between 6am and 10pm. The firm said the development will create about 200 jobs.

Sainsbury’s held an invitation only workshop and sent questionnaires to village homes last year and made public the revised scheme in February.

Station Road would be narrowed near the store and traffic calming measures put in place.

The report said the Midlands Architecture and Designed Environment architecture group gave “general support” for the plan for the 1960s centre.

None of the statutory consultees, such as council ecology officers and the police, objected to the scheme, which would open in 2013 if approved.

But 560 letters opposed the plan, including The Knowle Society, and a survey by the junior and infant schools and one backed by the Dorridge Residents Opposed to Village Superstore (DROVS) campaign group.

Key concerns were over the size of the store, the impact on other traders, the number of parking spaces and traffic.

Some pointed out that while the sales area has reduced by 26 per cent, the overall size of the store has fallen 14.7 per cent.

Another said: “Trend towards online shopping will make store unnecessary in future,
leaving a white elephant site deteriorating environment.”

One said: “No-one has to travel far to do weekly shop.”

Yet 132 letters supported the plan along with a 1,800 signature petition, thought to have been collected by the doctors’ surgery.

One said: “Store will revitalize Dorridge and attract small stores.”

Another said: “In Dorridge’s hey day there was significant loading and unloading at all times, noise pollution, insufficient parking which is not needed under this scheme.”

One comment said: “Not in Sainsbury’s interests to create a store which will have
profitability limited by customer parking.”

DROVS commissioned a barrister to examine the plans, who said it conflicted with the council’s “core strategy” blueprint of what the council should allow to be built in the borough, which has yet to be finalised.

But the planning officer said “substantial weight” cannot be given to the core strategy as it has not been finalised

Yet they said: “The proposed Sainsbury store is large for the size of centre.”

There would be “no significant” impact on Knowle, it said and “impact has not been shown to be harmful” for Dorridge.

It said of traffic: “All junctions could accommodate the forecast development traffic.

“This does not mean that there would be no queuing or delay at junctions. It means that, during the periods of assessment, the junctions could accommodate the forecasted throughput without the junction becoming saturated to a point where
vehicle queuing increases exponentially and does not clear.”

And it said of parking: “It is considered unlikely, once the travel patterns to the store had become established, that the level of car parking at the site would lead to a situation whereby there was significant queuing on highway or where it would give rise to a material highway safety issue.”

It said demand is only expected to exceed supply from 11.45am to 12.45pm on Saturday, with about 181 vehicles for 179 spaces.

Yet it said new regulations on nearby roads could stop people parking on the street and drivers could use the station overflow car park behind the nearby petrol station.

The numbers of lorries on the surrounding roads would increase by about 20 per cent as a result of the proposal, it said.

But, responding to concerns from Arden school about the safety of pupils walking to school, it said no pedestrian accidents since 2000 involved HGVs.

Note: the image on this article was changed at 5pm 24/11. The previous image was of an earlier design. The one used reflects the current proposals.

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