Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Knowle Waitrose approved

COUNCILLORS tonight approved a Waitrose plan for Knowle.

                   Artists impression (new)
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Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council’s planning committee approved the plan for St John’s Close eight to one.

Kimberley Developments said it hoped work will start in the spring for an opening by the summer of 2014.

Objectors including The Knowle Society warned the plan would bring too much extra traffic to the village.

But councillors said Knowle needed a better supermarket offering and the plan would help “regeneate” the area.

The firm will build a store with a 1,161sqm sales area on a former bowling green by The Red Lion.

Five bungalows nearest the store will be relocated to create a car park that will remain the council’s control. The village’s Tesco has a 865sqm sales area.

The committee considered three planning applications, one for the store, another for 47 spaces at Lodge Croft and another for 23 spaces to be cut into verges in St John’s Close.

Station Road resident Dr Jennifer Hagon, of Arden Medical Centre, spoke out against the Lodge Croft plan, which her home backs onto, saying it will be used for youngsters to drink, smoke and take drugs.

She said: “It will provide an area which is not visible which is likely to be an area where young people will congregate and indulge in activities which are harmful to their own health and wellbeing.”

The Knowle Society’s Andrew Marston said responses from its own exhibitions found a “narrow” majority against the plan andwarned traffic and parking will be “considerably worse”.

Kimberley director Philip Pearce said the scheme had “radically” changed after first being proposed for the site of the village hall, which would have been replaced on the bowling green.

He said: “It is a store that is trying to integrate with existing traders and be part of the village centre.”

It is a “scheme of real high quality which we feel will be of real benefit not only to Waitrose clearly but to Knowle as a whole”.

Waitrose Stratford-upon-Avon manager David Reid said the firm has attracted new businesses like cake shops and florists to other towns it has set up in.

The branch manager at Knowle would be given the task of “making sure that they are working with local retailers for the benefit of Knowle” he said.

He said: “It is in our interests for the village as a whole to be vibrant and healthy.”

But Knowle councillor Jeff Potts said the existing car parks are up to 95 per cent full already.

He said: “The only thing we are actually gaining is 3,000 additional cars a week.”

He raised concerns about the safety of Arden school pupils and said low unemployment in Knowle meant most of the 120 new jobs would not go to local people.

He said independent studies of the impact of supermarket chains on places like Knowle show “the general opinion is it is bad for business”.

Cllr Potts said: “A smaller building on that site will be very, very welcome. People in Knowle are not opposed to that site being developed.”

Fellow ward councillor Alan Rebeiro said Knowle was a “divided community” over the issue.

Council traffic officer Emily Walsh said junctions would see “relatively small” increases and the forthcoming Sainsbury’s superstore in Dorridge will take traffic from Knowle.

Knowle Tesco is over-trading by 30 per cent she said but planners expect 20 per cent of this to go to Sainsbury’s and 10 per cent to Waitrose.

The council’s predictions for how full car parks will be do not take this into account, she stressed.

Residents would also change the times they go shopping if car parks are full and could stop using their cars, she said, adding: “People have a choice to go elsewhere.”

And she said one large car park will make traffic flow “a lot easier” as drivers can look for spaces within the car park rather than go in and out of the existing four small ones, she said.

Committee members then gave their views on the plan.

Cllr Jim Ryan: “I think what Waitrose are proposing will go a long way, in my opinion, to regenerate the centre of Knowle.”

He said: “If Knowle doesn’t get this and we want to refuse it, what will they get in the future?

“If Waitrose were to walk away there wouldn’t be another developer who will be as accommodating as Waitrose. We have to look at the best interests of Knowle.”

Cllr John Windmill said he was concerned villagers would not be able to afford to shop at the upmarket store.

He said: “Waitrose will attract from a surrounding area and Knowle will have increasing parking capacity problems.”

But he said he would back the plan with strict conditions on car parking and design, adding: “I think the way it has been integrated into the Knowle scene is quite frankly brilliant.”

Cllr Robert Hulland said: “The one thing it needs is a good quality food shop and Waitrose does seem to be fitting the bill for that particular community.”

Knowle resident Cllr Stuart Davis said: “It’s change, it’s progress, we may not like it but it is coming and we have to live with it.”

He said: “To do nothing, as they say, is not an option but we have to have the infrastructure.”

Further details will need to be with the council on car parking arrangements but he said the free parking must be at least three hours instead of two.

After the meeting, at the council’s offices next to Touchwood, Waitrose development manager Martin Gorman said: “We are delighted with the result.

“We worked extremely hard over the last couple of years engaging with the local community.” He said opponents were a “vocal minority”.

Knowle Society chairman Leighton Jones told The Silhillian: “Let’s get on with it now, it is a lot of work still to do.”

He said: “Our major concern now is parking and traffic and we will have to see how it works out.”

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  1. We'll need three hours parking - it will take that long to find a space!

  2. If the residents dont use their cars, how are they meant to get their shopping home?

    And why should we have to stop using our cars, so the out-of-towners can shop in OUR village?

  3. Martin Gorman has not endeared himself to the village with that statement. It is way off the mark or shows a total lack of understanding. About half of the residents are against this scheme, not 'a vocal minority'. The implied subtext that the minority have not thought the issues through carefully and come to a balanced judgement is frankly insulting. Mr Gorman needs to be a bit more generous in his victory.

  4. I think its great!

    Why can't they introduce a shop and deliver service? walk to get your shopping and leave it at the store for delivery in the locality (ideally in electric vans)later that day?

    Seems such an obvious solution.

  5. It is a myth, perpetrated by the developers and conveniently adopted by the concil, that the majority of residents are in favour of the scheme. If things now do go belly up because of traffic and parking problems and the decline of small businesses then both parties can blame the community for what happens.

    1. Erm, well it is an unavoidable truth that small businesses Will cease trading if we stop using them! If as local residents we choose to spend our money in waitrose (sainsburies) THAT is what will cause their demise and the community will only have it (our) selves to blame.
      I wonder if the traffic/parking really will be that much worse than at present and what difference it will make to trading in practice. I suspect that people will flirt between dorridge and Knowle in a way that dont currenlty.

  6. I am a resident and an strongly in favour! This is an example of good investment and a strong people focused brand coming to Knowle. We could do a lot worse. I am thankful that we are getting a store that is in keeping and size with the community.

  7. pretty much everyone I have spoken to in Dorridge has been desperate for Forest Court to be replaced with a Waitrose, so presumably those people will travel to Knowle to shop. if as many people in Knowle want to shop at Sainsburys there will be a 2 way flow between our villages. on the face of it everyone's happy. BUT this makes a mockery of the stores saying that people will shop on foot or the even more ludicrous idea of using bikes with trailers to take our shopping home, trailing along what will become an even busier Station Road.
    in my opinion the stores, particularly Sainsburys becuase their store is so huge for such a small village centre, are taking big risks with the very restricted parking they are proposing. but hopefully the restricted parking will prevent too many people coming in from the wider Solihull, Lapworth, etc. areas.

  8. If we want to support local business we can. i asked some friends who were anti asinsbury's if they use the dorridge butcher - no they go to eric lyons, do they use jo-jo's cards no do they go to salem bagh no they go for a curry in knowle. A lot of dorridge people are always up in knowle using the tesco which is their right - and the costa now it's there (they didn't go for coffee previously up there) If local businesses are successful they attract traffic and parking is then an issue. At least with sainsbury's in dorridge some of the traffic will be going in the opposite dirction for a change.Overall both schemes will benefit the area which is changing - that's the way of things - too much negetivity and trying to live in the past it seems.

    1. I live in Knowle but use Tony the butcher in Dorridge. Always had excellent service from him.

  9. I believe Waitrose themselves have predicted an extra 25% footfall to Knowle from outside the Knowle / Dorridge area once their store opens. Waitrose will be hoping for more. The traffic going through Knowle on Warwick Road is heavy enough as it is. Brace yourselves for far more serious traffic problems in the future - jams, pollution, parking, accidents, frustration etc (hardly village life!).

  10. I understand the concerns of overcrowding but the alternative is that Knowle will die as a twon centre. There is a demand for quality food shopping and if people travel to out of town shops town centre shops mwill not survive. I hope that the local butchers, bakers etc can respond with a high quality personal service that people want to receive and can flourish because customers come to Knowle rather than elsewhere. the enlightened policy of free car parking in Knowle has kept it relatively busy and I hope that allowing Waitrose to build a quality shop in it's midst will bring only benefit to the whole community. Obviously sensible constraints will need to apply to parking and opening hours but Knowle as a whole will be the envy of many other small towns in the area.

    1. I do not understand why no Waitrose would cause Knowle to die., Go into Knowle any day and virtually any time and its thriving and busy. What is this infrastructure that someone has referred to? It’s another (albeit up market) supermarket which will do nothing for jobs but perhaps relocate a few. With all the supermarkets around knowle, why take such a huge gamble with parking and overcrowding just for the sake of another supermarket?
      It was of course always going to happen. Councillors are only interested in being seen to be on the side of progress and always give in after a totally unsuitable and OTT project is slightly scaled down . I cannot believe the idiot councillor who thinks one large car park is easier to cope with. She ought to get out more: it’s not getting into the car park that matters but being able to leave your car when you have found a space.
      Let’s hope that those against the scheme are wrong about the negatives. At least Kimberley can now move on and look for another money making scheme to spoil some other area.

  11. Replies
    1. Knowle WAS a village, now it's just a great big housing estate.

  12. Exactly - that is why people like living in Knowle and not Solihull, or down the Stratford Road with its plethora of supermarkets and endless traffic jams.

  13. What is the answer - You can't park on a Saturday night very easily these days because the restaurants and pubs are very popular - it's a catch 22 situation. You want a vibrant high street - then more people and more cars. You want low traffic numbers - then poor and closed local businesses will provide this.
    This Waitrose isn't that big - it will add to the appeal of knowle - there will be more visitors but on balance that is probably a good thing.

  14. I'm extremely pleased that Knowle is getting a Waitrose. I'm intending to cycle to the shops and think it would be a good idea to have a cycle route through the park. Any thoughts?

  15. Are Waitrose REALLY going to build in Knowle AND build an even bigger store in Solihull town centre - discuss!?

  16. I can't wait for Waitrose to come! I walk to Knowle Village every day and cant imagine that the parking would be any worse than at present! This is caused by a lot of people being to lazy to walk up even for a few small small items and a general inability to park their cars between two white lines. To 15.42, the cycle route through the park has been discussed at much length and dismissed , thankfully, as not wanted by the majority. Unless of course you would like to disfigure the park and run a concrete path across the middle?
    Also people who complain about small businesses suffering if Waitrose come, are these the same people that buy their petfood, flowers, meat and greeting cards from Tesco, rather than go a few yards to the independent shops?