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SPOILING THE AREA: Modern office block scheme rejected

SPOILING THE AREA: Modern office block scheme rejected

Image: LDRS

Building a modern office block in the historic heart of a Solihull village risked spoiling the look of the area and encouraging “unsafe” parking, planners have ruled.

The council has refused permission to create the contemporary building on land to the rear of Lodge Croft, in the middle of Knowle.

Proposals for the two-storey unit had attracted more than a dozen objections, with ward councillor Alan Rebeiro and Knowle, Dorridge and Bentley Heath Neighbourhood Forum among those to highlight concerns.

Having weighed up proposals, council conservationists made clear they had misgivings themselves.

Setting out reasons for refusal, officials said they were worried what impact the proposed development would have on its surroundings.

They said: “Although Knowle has continued to expand, the open setting to the rear of the buildings still survives, thanks to their proximity to the application site; the allotments and Knowle Park, which allows their significance to
be appreciated.”

The decision notice also highlighted concern about the knock-on effect the  project could have on surrounding highways.

“The level of car parking proposed [12 spaces] is not considered to be sufficient and could result in vehicles parking in an unsafe or inappropriate location,” it said.

The parcel of land in question had at one time been earmarked for car parking for the Waitrose store once proposed in the village.

More recently, after the supermarket scheme fell through, the office idea had been brought forward.

Cllr Rebeiro (Ind) said: “It was considered an inappropriate development in the conservation area of Knowle Village.”

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS), he said the negative impact would have been “considerable” and the block could also have caused access issues locally.

But the applicant, Kimberley Developments, had argued the “under-used” area presented an ideal opportunity for a commercial development within “easy walking distance” of the high street.

“[It has] excellent connectivity to all day-to-day services including public transport with bus links to major centres and the nearby Dorridge Railway Station.”

A decision was taken under delegated powers, which allows council officers to deal with certain applications without referring them to councillors.


Words: David Irwin, Local Democracy Reporter

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