KNOWLE residents are eagerly awaiting the outcome of a public consultation into housing plans which campaigners say would box in Solihull borough’s ‘most important conservation area’.
Council proposals for the next steps are expected next month.
The influential Knowle Society and the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) have outlined their concerns about plans for nearly 1,000 new homes around the historic village of Knowle.
A Solihull Council spokesperson told us: “A supplementary consultation on the Draft Local Plan was held between January and March this year.
“Over 3,800 representations were received and a report is currently being prepared which summarises them all.
“These representations will be taken into account and used to help shape the next version of the plan.
“The report will be presented to cabinet member in July, along with details of proposed next steps.”
Knowle’s medieval core is between the High Street and Kenilworth Road, near the Grade I listed church of St. John the Baptist, St. Lawrence and St. Anne.
This area has been protected by a Conservation Area since 1958 and includes 53 listed buildings and a number of protected heritage assets.
Solihull Council’s draft Local Plan for housing outlines plans for 600 homes in a scheme dubbed the ‘Arden Triangle’ (site nine) and a further 300 to 350 homes on Hampton Road (site eight).
West Midlands CPRE regional chair Mark Sullivan told us he fears Knowle could cease to be a village if plans are approved in their entirety.
He said: “Knowle is the most important Conservation Area in the borough, and the long-established designation aims to preserve its village character.
“Proposals to surround Knowle village with extensive housing to its north and south would undermine the Conservation Area’s character and setting because Knowle would become a town in terms of population size and urban extent.
“Site eight would have the effect of developing open land to the north of the historic village and removing the countryside setting that remains to that side of Knowle.”
The Knowle Society chairman and planning committee chair Andrew Marston spoke to us about the ‘Arden Triangle’.
He said: “The proposal Is incompatible with the existing infrastructure.
“The High Street is already log-jammed after an accident on the M42 – and if the site is developed, queues will be even longer.
“And, of course, the environment of the whole of Knowle Conservation Area will be harmed by exhaust emissions.
“The council has yet to put forward its infrastructure proposals outlining how they are going to resolve this and other related problems including pressure on education and health.
“They are obliged to provide this information.
“Therefore the consultation process is flawed because the council by not providing the necessary information, preventing a balanced judgement being made on the proposal.”
And concerned Knowle resident Ruth Keast said in relation to the site nine development: “If it goes ahead it is going to completely alter the character of a community and cause huge infrastructure issues with inadequate access and services, not to mention the environmental impact from green belt loss.”