Thursday, 17 November 2011

Waitrose would make parking worse, Knowle Society warns

A REVISED Waitrose plan for Knowle does not propose enough extra parking so “grid-lock would be inevitable for much of the day” The Knowle Society has warned.

Artists impression (new)

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No spaces would be available between 11am and 5pm in the week and 10am to 2pm on Saturdays, it said in a letter to Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council.

Shoppers at the development – proposed for a former bowling green by The Red Lion car park - would be up to 38 spaces short at peak times, it said.

Society planning committee chairman Leighton Jones said: “If this proposal was allowed to go through it could only be on the basis that it made a positive contribution to easing the current parking problems. It doesn’t do this but actually makes them worse.”

The society said the plan proposes 305 spaces to the west of the High Street compared to 264 now.

But extra spaces do not take into account the loss of on street parking in the St Johns Close area and the pub car park, Mr Jones said.

He said: “Even on the information provided by the developers there would be insufficient additional parking to reasonably accommodate current demands, let alone the additional demand from shoppers to the proposed store.”

And he said plans for 190 new homes to the back of Arden and Knowle Primary schools would add to pressure.

Waitrose’s own figures say the existing car parks are frequently full, Mr Jones said.

Waitrose has proposed 25 more spaces next to the 22-space Lodge Croft car park, off Lodge Road, near the junction with Station Road, currently garages and unused ground.

A further 15 parking spaces would be cut into the verge where Lodge Road leads into St John’s Close.

Yet Mr Jones said: “Even with full use of Lodge Croft and the additional road edge parking the system will be in deficit or so close that grid-lock would be inevitable for much of the day.”

He said the letter is a result of two society public meetings on the plans earlier this month at Knowle Village Hall, attended by about 300 residents.

Mr Jones said residents said parking was the “most concerning aspect” of the plans.

Planning applications were submitted to the council last year for a store on the site of the village hall, which would have been re-provided on the bowling green.

These were withdrawn before the council made a decision. A decision on the new plan is expected early next year.

It comes as most people, 15 out of 28, who left supporting or opposing comments on the council’s website backed the store’s planning application.

One said: “The village is looking tired and in need of a facelift this development will brighten up the area and give some soul back to a much loved village.”

Robert Ericsson gave his “whole hearted approval”, saying: “It will bring life back to Knowle High Street.”

He said: “It will give choice and the chance to get my full weeks shopping from one
place rather than have to travel outside the borough.”

Another said: “We must realise that Knowle is no longer a small village. With four banks and over 20 restaurants/fast food outlets and its population it is a thriving small town.”

A supporter said: “The issue of car parking and traffic circulation is probably insoluble and there is little evidence to suggest that this proposal is going to make the situation worse.”

But opponents warned of the impact on traffic and other shops.

One says: “The extra footfall to Knowle from outside the area that a Waitrose store would bring would only add to the already heavy traffic.

“The car parks, like now, would be full and there would be the same old parking overflow onto roads around the village centre.”

“And after Waitrose? More big name stores? More new-build housing, because of the facilities? A Knowle High Street by-pass cutting through residential areas?”

One said: “Congestion in Knowle is far to great at the moment and this supermarket would only make it worse.”

A St Johns Close resident says workers leave their car outside their home and the plan would make this “even worse”.

Stephen Cartmell says: “I would be delighted to have a Waitrose near to Knowle, but cannot understand why you feel the need to spoil the village and cause us even more parking problems than we already have!”

Another comment warns the plan will “take away trade from the existing independent stores” and could lead to closures.

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