Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Knowle Society fears over Four Ashes homes plan

A PLAN for homes in Four Ashes Road, Bentley Heath will add to traffic problems, The Knowle Society has warned, as final plans for new housing in the two villages come forward.


Click the headline or link below to read the rest of this story.

It said using land by Packwood Close by 2018 “would exacerbate the problems in the area with traffic and the provision of public services, especially schooling”.

The site is set aside in a “draft local plan” for where Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council will allow homes to be built across the borough to 2028.

This also includes plans for more than 200 homes on two fields in Knowle. Four Ashes would have up to 150 homes.

Yet developer Crest Nicholson has put forward a plan for 38 homes at the Four Ashes site, before the plan is agreed this year.

This application must not be decided until the draft local plan is finalised said the society, which said it was commenting as the scheme “will have an impact on Knowle”.

In a letter to the council, society committee chairman Leighton Jones said he was pleased 15 of the homes would be affordable.

But he said people should have the option to own part of the home, rather than rent it from an affordable housing organisation.

He also said he is “very concerned” for plans to put nine of the affordable homes in one block which would “affect the ambience”. They should be spread out, he said.

A maximum 100 homes will be allowed at Middlefield, a field to the back of Arden school, under the latest version of the draft local plan, out for consultation to March (see maps at bottom of story or p152-154 of this pdf).

Up to 115 would go on a field to the back of Knowle Primary School off Hampton Road.

The plan says developers would have to made a “significant” cash contribution so Arden could expand.

This is vital as demand will outstrip Arden’s places available within the catchment area next year, it warns.

The impact on health services from the extra homes must be considered, it said.

The society previously raised fears over the three housing plans, saying they would put “severe increased pressure on the infrastructure of Knowle”.

It backed development at Four Ashes only.




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  1. Well done Knowle Society; you have finally seen the impact this will have!
    4 Ashes Road is a busy commuter road that does not need an additional minimal 80 car movements per day.
    There have been five housing developments within a radius of 2 miles of this site.
    I do not believe that we need more family housing but more provision is required for people to downsize into into desirable properties i.e. specialist housing for the elderly (as quoted in the December local paper by Councillor Meeson)
    Additional pressure on services and infrastructure including Arden school and local doctors.
    Then there is the ecological constraints: the majority of the field boundaries comprises of established hedgerows with mature trees, ideal for wildlife.
    We need to stop “Predatory developers” in our sought after postcode area. Write to the Planning Department and object to these plans - Application 2011/1914

    A worried Bentley Heath resident.

    1. I fully agree with both anonymous comments and would like to thank the Knowle Society for their efforts, However I disagree that this new predatory development be included in phase one and is being less of an issue for Knowle. My initial response is why ruin this rural area of Bentley Heath for the benefit of Arden school in Knowle now a self financing academy.The site should revert back to green belt and at the very least be returned to phase three and if needed and viable the 150 dwelling site could be properly addressed i.e. only one site entrance on the apex of the bend on Four Ashes Road which would give the optimum view for safety and speed assessment. which would also stop the developers from only utilising the areas most suitable to themselves! It would also be a great visual loss to the area and the loss of this wildlife corridor would totally enclose our recreation ground so the feeling of rural spaciousness would be lost for all the visiting football teams ,joggers.dog walkers and other recreation ground users.Once this valuable green space gap has gone it is gone forever and the treelined route into Solihull would lose the "Urbs in Rure" feel.But the culture of development for profit is not necessary at this time until all the appropriate infrastructure is in place, indeed the bus service is none existent of an evening and sundays and a five minute car journey to Knowle could take considerably longer by bus as the only routes are via Solihull or Dorridge at mostly 30 minute intervals during the day . Our village centre is very well supported even with existing parking facilities and any new development would only increase pressure within this area. Bentley Heath is a very old community in its own right,is it necessary to merge it with Knowle,Dorridge,Hockley Heath or Blythe areas?.When needed build, until that day DO NOT SPOIL OUR VILLAGE.

  2. I would like to thank and support The Knowle Society for its efforts and opinions, my only disagreement is that the "Land at Four Ashes" site must also be returned to phase three and not put forward at this time once the new premature application is accepted there may be no further urgent need for developing the remainder of the 150 dwelling site and if or when that happens further infrastructure changes will be required at extra cost.
    It would therefore appear logical that all the infrastructure disruption and building site development work should be in phase three and would only then require a single site entrance roughly on the apex of the bend on Four Ashes Road the optimum safest point for vision and speed assessment,which would also mean the least destruction to the trees on the (TPO) tree preservation order. IF IT IS THEN VIABLE? Some further comments would include the old adage of when it's gone it is gone forever, you cannot expect to lose this valuable green wildlife corridor (especially the new Crest Nicholson application 2011/1914) without losing the open rural feel of this main tree lined corridor into Solihull.It would also enclose the recreation ground where visiting football teams enjoy the open feel of the Arden landscape to the west. It appears to do nothing to enhance or protect our environment and would spoil Bentley Heath for the proposed benefit of Arden School now a SELF financing academy. Public Transport would need to be upgraded to alleviate car journeys at present evening and sunday bus services do not exist and a five minute car journey to Knowle, by bus would be via Solihull or Dorridge. There are plenty of other points to make but I agree with the comments of 'anonymous". So do not allow the developers greed for profit spoil our "Urbs in Rure" area..

  3. One of the reasons this area is sought after is the ambience, the access to some green space and what used to be good infrastructure. With all of these qualities gradually being eroded by potential developments like these, I think there is a real risk that Knowle becomes less sought after. What a shame.

    Another worried Bentley Heath resident - already scanning the property pages.

    1. I too feel the need to scan the property pages ,which is a shame as my wife and I have lived in Solihull since 1970 and seen many changes. We moved to Bentley Heath as my wife does not drive and the availability of a bus service clockwise and anticlockwise to Knowle and Solihull USED to be ideal,the village centre with all facilities was also ideal and the recreation area was ideal for exercising. The Rural feel of the tree lined areas and green spaces lifted our lives and indeed we were settled and handy to the cemetery! But the predatory developers with their well worded leaflet appearing to be doing our community a favour!? I THINK NOT. They will do nothing to enhance the character and feel of our rural area and amenities.The planners work away in their country side locations tempting and finding suitable builders in their large offices surrounded by empty parking spaces to enter and disrupt all our lives purely for their profitability,I do not wish my anger to be shown within this comment but my frustration is obvious..

    2. also concerned resident25 February 2012 at 17:21

      You appear to up against a closed system,several neighbours in the area were given assurances by SMBC at their consultation venues that this area would not be developed prior to 2021 and was safeguarded land in Phase three.But between their consultation this and two other Knowle sites were moved forward in the local development plan to phase one. If you check the Solihull Land Availability Assessment SHLAA meeting info you may be surprised to note that the attendees consist of external planning groups one of which is PEGASUS Planning Group and their representative JOANNE HEDGLEY .The same person is the contact if you need to discuss the Crest Nicholson plans for the "land off Four Ashes Road". My assumption Could be wrong but it would appear that you find out the information you require.,go to a developer,then sit back and you have earnt your wages,then you listen/comply to the section 106 requirements to assist the Arden Academy to the detriment of Bentley Heath. If it is a done deal then perhaps some investigation is needed? or is this normal practice.

  4. Driving through Knowle every day, I can say the infrastructure would really struggle during the rush hour commute - Are there any plans to address this issue?

    1. concerned resident9 February 2012 at 20:08

      I assume all the necessary infrastructure costs would be borne by the the predatory developers who wish to develop "land off Four Ashes Road" with 150 dwellings and with 2 planned entrances.If as their traffic survey suggests a vehicles passes about every 7 to 8 seconds,I would not consider this safe and ample time for the new residents vehicles to enter and exit at peak periods (average cars per property 3 = 450 SINGLE outward movements alone) .A suggestion would be to only have one entrance situated on the apex of the bend which would give the safest view for speed assessment.However the best outcome would be to leave well alone until it is absolutely necessary for these green wildlife corridors to vanish. Then you can sit in the queuing traffic pollute the surrounding area and admire their new development.
      Views of a concerned Bentley Heath resident.

  5. I no it sounds bad but i think what people dont realise is affordable housing means council housing!.and i bet a good majority will be council housing and a very small portion will be part rent and part buy,a good example is on warick road on the old flemings hotel site the council built 140 new homes with only 5 of them turning out to be part rent part buy,and im sorry to say that in those council homes are housed the people with the most problems ie people leaving hostals homeless single young mothers and people leaving prison and also people in witness protection because they are the people with priority to be housed and if you feel this may not be true have a look at the council housing priority list. also the moat lane estate,lots of lovely new homes small majority bought the rest council and housing association,or should i say affordable housing!,that estate is now a hive of anti social behavior and has been in the paper for its problems i think these problems are coming our way,im not saying people shouldent be housed just not in our nice rural areas

  6. I live on Packwood Close and we have now been advised about the proposed development referred to as "the southern parcel" in application 2011/1914. The proposal is for a 'senior living' complex. Plans and schemes to be exhibited on 7th June at Bentley Heath Community Centre between 3pm and 6.30pm. I will be there fighting all the way to prevent this development. I know we need homes, my partner is in construction so we have this debate almost daily but I have to take the personal view. My ex-council house doesnt appeal to everyone purely because it isjust that, an ex council house, but it sits in a lovely setting which is why over the years I have felt justified in spending £35,000 in improving my home, I thought I would live here for the rest of my life. If these developments go ahead I will potentially loose all of my investment because not only have I lost the wonderful setting my ex-council house will be surrounded by much more attractive housing. I stand to loose a lot of money and at my time of life I dont have the years to be able to earn that back. Apologies for dumping my emotional view on this thread but we cant ignore the fact the developers and planners are seriously impacting peoples lives and that should be a significant consideration.

  7. As a resident of Dorridge and Bentley Heath i am struggling to find a property in the area where I both live and work (on four ashes road) Therefore I am in favour the proposed plans and will be showing my full support of the developments. While I agree with concerns that it may detract slightly from the rural appeal of Bentley Heath / Knowle the limited quantities of quality housing in the area at an affordable price is evidence that something needs to be done to help develop the area.

    I would agree that traffic is the main concern and extra roads will be required to cope / and direct the flow when the volume of cars (especially larger vehicles i.e. 4x4s that are so common in the area) is high. I foresee the main problem here is the large amount of school-run traffic and a school bus scheme to the main village areas could easily eradicate this problem if properly structured and encouraged by the schools.

  8. Concerned Bentley Heath24 October 2012 at 17:18

    HI Nintenjo,You are very fortunate to live and work within the area I hope you have a nice view from your workplace,but I consider this last area of green-space adjacent to the recreation ground should be retained and the vista enjoyed by all as if developed the tree scape along the road would finally merge Bentley Heath with Dorridge.The traffic problems could be exacerbated by this partial development but could treble if when 3 parts of the complete site are developed they will all have individual access points onto the very busy/fast road, particularly the Aspen extra care site near the Bridge.The estimated price for 2 beds is 225-250K and as their are properties within this range in this area your comment upon quality houses could easily be misconstrued.Your traffic comments are correct but the good suggestion of a school bus would not be cost effective as the developer states only 2 pupils per school year would result from this site???