LOCAL PLAN REVIEW and DICKENS HEATH

The 2013 Local Development Plan(LDP) saw development sites approval at Braggs farm and land at Cleobury Lane and Dickens Heath Road.(see pages 84 and 86 of the plan attached: http://www.solihull.gov.uk/Portals/0/Planning/LDF/Local_Plan_Final.pdf

The Local Plan Review has identified land ‘West of Dickens Heath’ for a number of additional houses. Pages 146 and 147 of the Draft Local Plan refer to this site, together with reasons for the site to be included in the draft plan and likely infrastructure requirement if the site goes forward. The link to this document is here: http://www.solihull.gov.uk/Portals/0/Planning/LPR/Draft_Local_Plan_05.12.16.pdf

land-west-of-dickens-heath

I believe this site needs to be examined closely and even though it may remain in the plan submitted for consideration by the planning inspector there are issues that need resolving. The site identified can be seen o the map on page 162.

Site ownership:

This area was submitted for consideration by two owners. A small plot of land adjoining Akamba is owned separately to the land we know as the football and rugby grounds. It is therefore vital that some commonality and joined up working needs to be adopted to ensure smooth transition and lessen the effect of development.

It is also vital that consideration by groups such as Sport England comment on the loss of the football/rugby grounds.

Outline proposals:

In relation to the football and rugby grounds, it seems to be common knowledge the clubs have been in communication with the owner of the land and prospective developers, Richborough Estates. The outline plan is to accommodate the needs of the football/rugby clubs on the current site known as Shirley Town FC (which is the same side of Tythe ban Lane as Akamba).

Having met with the owner, prospective developers and their agents I can state the outline plan is to develop sporting facilities on this one site, creating a sports hub with a large clubhouse, many sports pitches (including 3G pitches, some flood lighting on certain pitches and some form of stands for the two main pitches. The plan is also for public areas to include cycle/foot paths and fitness tracks (like ‘trim tracks’) as well as areas for ‘play’. Here the devil will be in the detail and it is vital the needs of the sports clubs are accommodated before progression to any planning application. I can state here with some certainty that without the agreement of the existing sports clubs and Sport England a planning application will fail. 

Development is therefore proposed on the other two sites (Old Yardlians rugby ground and the adjoining football facilities we know as Highgate).

It is a shame I am unable to share the (very) draft outline plans the agent has shared with the borough councillors and Dickens Heath Parish Council; a picture paints a thousand words. However, I do understand the need for commercial confidentiality.

Issues to address? 

Pages 146/147 identify the likely infrastructure requirements needed to be addressed. The planning inspector will take note of this and may even add to them.

land-dh-infrastructure

For me, this site is one that needs close examination, with attention to detail. As well as the sports/leisure facilities a major issue to address is the transportation plan. Dickens Heath already has traffic issues in its narrow roads and densely populated village. It is therefore vital that access and egress to the planned housing development accommodates how the new residents will drive to and from their homes. Measures to ‘motivate’ drivers not to drive through Dickens Heath Village are essential. Additionally, commitment to the improvement of public transport, both rail and bus, should form part of the conditions for any planning application and be identified.

The identification of healthcare issues should be examined in a way that can be of benefit for the existing residents of Dickens Heath. Similarly the identification of the school catchment area, for both primary and secondary ages, should be addressed (here I am confident the two local schools can accommodate the new pupils – this will mean a reduction in the ‘out of catchment’ children attending the two local schools).

The public realm is also an important issue. It is vital that open space should be made available for walking, cycling and general roaming and areas for play – this being in addition to any replacement of sports pitches and facilities. Open space should be available to improve upon that already in existence in Dickens Heath. Leisure space must form an important aspect of the boroughs local plan review.

Akamba itself is an issue, with the site of this business being put forward as land for development by the owner of the land. I and Cllr Alex Insley have met with Chris, owner of Akamba, the owner of the land, prospective developers and their agents.  It would be wrong to go into specific details about length of lease etc because of commercial confidentiality and we know we can not bind anyone in respect of private business transactions but we have made it clear we support Akamba and its value as a business in Solihull and the cultural benefits to the borough and the wider region. I must point out though there is no immediate threat to Akamba.


10 thoughts on “LOCAL PLAN REVIEW and DICKENS HEATH

  1. My concern is our already over burdened roads throughout Dickens Heath. For instance, allowing parking for residents on what i call the periphery road Rumbush lane, it is only a one lane access most of the time. Any further house building west of Dickens Heath, will only increase traffic flow? As i am sure for school, work purposes, most further traffic will want to reach A34 or M42.

  2. I concur with Richard Young’s post here, that the key thing is the already reliance on poor countryside lanes that support the current residential and businesses..these have to be improved without fail if any agreed developments go ahead….Secondly improving public transport i see as pointless, most people are selfish these days and want to drive everywhere, so i’m not sure improved public transport would encourage people to leave cars at home…

  3. With regard to the intention to provide sports facilities as part of the developments in Dickens Heath, to ensure that the Dickens Heath community has continued access to sports facilities whilst the houses are being built, it would be good if the new sports facilities could be completed before the other existing football and rugby pitches are closed for development.

    1. An extremely valid point. Members of the teams that use the three club grounds come from far and wide and as I mentioned in my post, unless the clubs agree and Sport England agree that the replacement grounds are suitable then this will not get off the ground.

  4. 1) Loss of sports grounds – will the replacement of the lost sports facilities factor in the current usage and size requirements for all current age groups and teams? My children have been using these amenities since they were 6 and still doing so (now in their teens). Also during the weekend the current areas are impassible due to all the vehicles parked everywhere that are attending the facilities. Will this replacement also factor in all the car parking requirements?
    2) Will there be additional traffic into DH school? Its current setup is a total nightmare at school pickup/drop-off times (not everyone can walk their kids to school as they normally do this in conjunction with heading off/returning from work). The road has not been designed with this in mind and there is no room for changes even though several attempts have been made. The problem just gets moved into another street.
    3) There is no easy way to get from Tidbury Geen end through to Shirley/Solihull. Many people already cut through the estate.
    4) Echo the concerns of medical facilities in the area (Doctors/Dentists/Hospital). Already have to wait weeks to get an appointment at DH medical centre. Solihull hospital is limited, no longer an A&E and downgraded (generally get passed onto Heartlands).
    5) Is there an impact assessment on the emergency services?
    6) Why are Brownfield sites not used first, why the Greenbelt? Regenerate areas and not degenerate what is there. I moved to DH based on its balance. This balance has long gone and with the way the area has expanded and with these plans, my next move will be out of Solihull altogether.
    7) My understanding is that Tidbury Geen also has areas earmarked? If this is the case, there will be wall to wall houses all the way from Tidbury Green through to Solihull town centre.

  5. Last comments from DH Resident are very relevant and please make these know via the consultation into the local plan review. If I can comment on the last two points: Brownfield sites – there are virtually nil in the borough for 13,500 homes that are required. Monkspath (where I live), Hillfield, Damson Parkway and Dickens Heath were all developed on green field sites in the last 30 or so years. The old PowerGen building is a brownfield site that is being used for about 150 homes. Tidbury Green: no extra development is going to go into there that has not already been agreed by the planning inspectorate. The council wanted both Tidbury Green Farm and Lowbrook Farm to be returned into the green belt at the LDP adoption in 2013. However, we were taken to the High Court and overruled. This was endorsed at the Court of Appeal as well.

  6. I can understand your concerns for your own Borough and Parish but have you stopped to think about the impact this will have on your neighbours in Wythall Parish, particularly in Majors Green. It’s understandable that you are concerned about the extra traffic going through Dickens Heath village (which is already one of the most undesirable places to drive through) which means it will most likely be routed through Majors Green which is already at almost maximum capacity, not to mention the 30 accidents we’ve had on Haslucks Green Road in the last 18 months. For this reason, I believe that the highway infrastructure should be agreed before a brick is laid on any of the proposed sites. To me it’s like inviting the Formula One cars to Shirley before you have decided where they are going to race.

  7. Your points are equally valid Derek and the focus should not be on just one small (ish) area. If we are to have development then joined up thinking should follow and just because one area is in Solihull and the other in a different authority should not mean attention to infrastructure such as schools, doctors or roads should not be considered jointly.

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