Monday, 22 April 2013

Approve Knowle 88-homes plan, planning officer says

PLANS for 88 homes to the back of Knowle Primary School should be approved this week, a council planning officer has said.

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Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council’s planning committee will be asked to make a decision on the Miller Homes plan – for fields off Hampton Roadon Wednesday.

A planning officer has recommended members approve the plan, saying it “will deliver a scheme that respects the character and local distinctiveness of Knowle”.

Their report says: “An acceptable balance has been struck between the need to maintain an acceptable density and therefore efficient use of land, mix of dwellings to serve local needs and the need to respect the character of the area.”

It is included in the council’s draft local plan of where it will allow major development in the next two decades. Its three Knowle sites would be allowed by 2018.

Access would be from Hampton Road, which would get a pedestrian crossing and two speed cushions. Cash would be given to expand Arden school.

Some 16 residents objected to the council, including The Knowle Society, along with two letters of support. Concerns included traffic and its visual impact.

Cliff Topham-Steele said: “The current junction between Lodge Road, Hampton Road and Warwick Road already becomes congested at peak times.

“This encourages vehicles to use Arden Vale Road as a cut through to avoid this junction.”

And he said of a proposed 35 affordable homes: “It is unfair to those of limited means who have worked hard and sacrificed much to live in the village to artificially manipulate the demographic through assisted housing provision.”

It could lead to anti-social behaviour, he suggested, adding: “It is unfair to impose this destructive subset of society onto a cohesive and law abiding community.”

The plan would have 22 socially rented and 13 shared ownership affordable properties, mostly three bedroom houses.

The market-value homes would have one, two-bedroom flat; 36, three-bedroom and 16, four-bedroom houses.

Oliver Smith told the council: “As a first time buyer born and raised in Knowle I am very excited at the prospect of being able to buy my first home in my village.”

The officer’s report said while more two-bedroom homes “would be preferable” and could lead to more overall properties on the site, its three-bedroom “starter homes” are welcomed.

It said the site would see about 500, two way vehicle trips each day from 7am to 7pm

It said: “Given the relatively low prevailing flows, it is considered the development traffic could be accommodated without causing material delay along Hampton Road or at the site access.”

It said of the junction of Hampton Road and High Street: “Development traffic can be accommodated without the junction becoming saturated.”

The developer would give £305,713 to expand Arden School, set to be oversubscribed this September.

The other sites in the council local plan are up to 150 homes off Four Ashes Road, Bentley Heath and 115 to the back of Arden School.

The council this month approved 44 homes for the Four Ashes site. A decision has yet to be made on 52OAP flats on the site.
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