DEVELOPERS and residents have hit back at opponents to a proposal to build new homes in Shirley.
Kingslea Homes’ application to build five bungalows behind homes in Lawnswood Avenue was rejected by Solihull Council in January due to road safety concerns, after dozens of petitioners urged them to block the plan.
The developer has rejected accusations that its appeal against that decision, launched on May 27 with a July 1 deadline, was timed deliberately to coincide with lockdown.
A spokesman said: “It has been stated that we submitted our planning appeal in an underhanded manner to take advantage of the turmoil during Covid-19.
“The appeal only started on May 27 despite being submitted in February. We have not taken advantage of Covid-19. We have followed the protocol for submission of an appeal, to avoid losing the window to do so.”
The Kingslea spokesman defended the appeal, saying the council’s rejection of the plan – on grounds that it would harm road safety, was in an unsustainable location, and was not in keeping with the area – was ‘based neither on sound advice nor adopted policy’.
He said: “We submitted a suite of professional reports. We carried out professional reports on vehicular speeds in the area. We also carried out an accident survey. There has not been an accident in the vicinity for over 20 years.
“We have worked extensively with council officers to modify the access and width to the point where highways officers were satisfied and withdrew their objection.
“We provided a policy P7 distance requirement to the council that must have been ignored.
“We are removing an unsightly flat roof extension to 83 Lawnswood Avenue, which will re-instate the natural appearance of the 1930’s built semi and open the street scene. The change we will make will improve the street scene.
“We have spent a lot of money and time on professional reports. Our ethos as a company is to ‘obtain planning by way of proven technical reports’. We follow the National Planning Policy Framework to the letter whenever possible.”
A resident of Lawnswood Avenue contacted The Observer to back Kingslea Homes.
She said: “The developers have done everything by the book. They have jumped through every hoop and obstacle the council have put in their way.
“It was put forward for full approval by the planning team having meet all requirements and regulations.
“The development is totally in keeping with the area, and the land is not used as it is too large to maintain.”
She said the original application had been thrown out at a ‘one-sided’ councillor meeting, despite planning officers having recommended it for approval.
And she accused opponents of the scheme of ‘cynical lies’ in their attempts to block it.
Last week, long-time opponent to the scheme Councillor Mark Parker told The Observer he was ‘aghast’ the developer had chosen to go to appeal on what he described as ‘a deeply unpopular planning application’.
He accused the developer of ‘a cynical attempt to go to appeal under lockdown’, adding: “Residents are united on this. It will lead to a loss of privacy and peace, as well as posing serious highway safety concerns to pedestrians and parents walking their children past this proposed site to the recently expanded Blossomfield Infants and Nursery School a few yards down the same road.”
In January, council planning officers recommended the application be approved, saying: “The proposal can be designed to ensure that it will not be materially harmful to the amenities currently enjoyed by the occupiers of neighbouring dwellings.”
Visit www.gov.uk/government/organisations/planning-inspectorate and search for application number 3248401 to comment on the planning appeal.