Thursday, 1 November 2012

Approve Waitrose next week, council report says

A WAITROSE plan for Knowle should be approved next week, a council report says.

                   Artists impression (new)
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Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council’s planning committee will be asked to make a decision on the plan on Wednesday.

The committee will meet in the council’s offices next to Touchwood at 4.30pm. The public can attend and The Silhillian will provide live coverage via Twitter.

Kimberley Developments wants to build the store on a disused bowling green by The Red Lion car park, with deliveries via Station Road.

Five nearby bungalows would be re-provided in the village to make way for parking spaces.

A council planning officer said: “I am content that the submitted scheme successfully respects the character and appearance of the surrounding area and conservation area.

“Furthermore, the significant enhancement to the public realm adjacent to the village green will increase its attractiveness and sense of place.”

They said: “The proposal is not expected to cause unacceptable traffic impact to the surrounding area.

“Sufficient parking is provided and servicing arrangements are considered to be appropriate.”

The report said the plan “would meet a significant qualitative deficiency in the centre where main food shopping facilities are very limited”.

They said there would be “more than enough expenditure capacity to support the store” even when a Sainsbury’s is built in Dorridge.

There would be a “notable increase in traffic” in the afternoon and weekend peak periods but new spaces would tackle congestion in existing “poorly laid out” car parks by the village hall.

Some 72 letters opposed the scheme along with a petition with 1,040 signatures with concerns about the impact on other traders, extra traffic and parking.

But 27 letters supported the plan along with a 160-signature petition. Supporters said it would “bring new life” to the village and provide needed competition for Tesco.

One comment said: “Knowle is a ghost town with lack of choice for shopping.”

Knowle councillor Jeff Potts delivered 4,000 surveys to homes. Of the 617 returned, 63 per cent opposed and 35 supported the plan.

A report from a conservation firm commissioned by Knowle Society said the “out of scale” plan would have a negative impact on views.

But none of the council’s officers from departments including highways and conservation raised objections.

The store would open every day from 8am to 10pm with deliveries from 7am to 10pm and firm said it would create about 120 jobs.

The report says the scheme would increase spaces in shoppers car parks in the close and Tesco from 218 to 266. Red Lion spaces would fall from 49 to 28.

The firm has also applied to create 47 spaces at Lodge Croft.

A previous 2011 scheme to put the store on the site of village hall, which would be replaced on the bowling green, was withdrawn.

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