THE Dorridge & District Residents Association (DDRA) have been listening to the community and reviewing the latest submission for the redevelopment of Dorridge centre into a supermarket. There is a wide range of views, but there is a consensus for rebuilding Forest Court.
While we agree that the proposal is larger than might be appropriate, we believe the benefits outweigh the risks.
The DDRA tried for a decade to encourage a smaller redevelopment but neither landowners nor supermarkets (including Waitrose) were able to come up with a viable scheme. Based on that experience, we don’t think there is much prospect for a developer submitting an application for a smaller development.
We accept the proposal is a compromise but we want to ensure that the council get the right commitments from Sainsbury’s; people are cynical about promises from large organisations so it would be best to have legally binding contracts for important commitments such as delivery times. Birmingham Airport gives an example of how to deal with problems: they pay into a community fund for breaches of flying restrictions.
Traffic and parking continue to be a concern, yet as we want to see the centre successfully redeveloped, we are clearly expecting people to travel to Dorridge. The Sainsbury’s has responded to several genuine problems with their interim scheme shown in January – we guided Sainsbury’s by showing that these were well-founded concerns and they responded with improvements to their design. We are not convinced there is enough parking, but think that this is a useful constraint to stop Sainsbury’s overtrading.
We need SMBC, Sainsbury’s and Chiltern to work together to resolve the parking issues to ensure traders elsewhere in Dorridge can thrive. We think that Sainsbury’s should have targets set so that if parking and traffic cause problems then they are obliged to fund further improvements.
Many of the traffic problems at the moment are from local people who park and drive inconsiderately. The school car run is a national blight and not a sound reason to stop development.
We do not see the delivery volume as excessive.
Those with memories of just a few years will remember that Dorridge had something of an industrial past. The Eveson’s coal yard near Forest Court was a source of lorry traffic. Sainsbury’s have acknowledged that heavy lorries through Knowle do not mix with the High Street and are proposing to divert deliveries to the Warwick Road from the south/west. These are likely to cause less disturbance than the goods trains that run through the night. We would want late night, early morning and Sunday traffic minimised, again with contractual commitments.
We think the road scheme will be a significant improvement.
While the focus has been on Poplar Road, the realignment of the road should significantly help the currently unsafe exit from Station Approach. While we would have liked to retain the mature trees we believe the concerns over the state of the existing trees are well founded and the replacement scheme responds to concerns raised by the community.
The expansion of the doctor’s surgery is welcome. The drawings of the frontage and surgery do look attractive to us, and we must acknowledge that Sainsbury’s have gone a long way to hiding the store and providing the potential to create an interesting centre.
We find the majority of people we speak to are in favour of the store and they have not found a voice.
DROVS have provided a strong voice for those opposed, and we welcome their contribution to the debate. We feel that it is better to go with a compromise scheme with Sainsbury’s listening, than to risk the site being blighted for several years.
Ian Spencer, chairman, Dorridge & District Residents Association, on behalf of the Committee