AMIDST cheers from relieved Dorridge residents’ a controversial planning application for a Sainsbury’s store in the leafy village was unanimously thrown out by councillors on Wednesday (March 10).
The packed planning meeting saw around 150 concerned villagers crowd the council chamber as the application to site the store in the beleaguered Forest Court precinct was debated for several hours.
Residents were careful to stress that many in the village were not anti-Sainsbury’s but were concerned about the scale of the application.
Impassioned speeches from locals included Dr Rob Walker who was concerned about the store’s service yard and its proximity to homes and children’s bedrooms which could affect sleep and consequently mental health. He called the scheme ‘lazy and greedy’.
However Bruno Moore, Regional Town Planning Manager for Sainsbury’s defended the proposal: “We have worked hard with Solihull Council and stakeholders and at the recent consultation in the village, 75 per cent supported the scheme.”
Councillor Jim Ryan said he was ‘horrified’ at the scale of the development. He added: “Dorridge is untouchable for bad development and we are not going to have it.”
Caroline Spelman MP for Meriden said: “Dorridge centre needs regeneration but the scale of the store proposed was too large. The road infrastructure could not cope with the amount of traffic that the planned development would create. I appreciate that Sainsbury’s redrafted their initial plans but unfortunately these do not go far enough in satisfying the local community and Solihull Council’s requirements regarding traffic flow and safety.”
But a disappointed Sainsbury’s spokesman said the future of the village centre had now been jeopardised.
Jamie Cowen, Sainsbury’s Head of Property Development, said: “We are extremely disappointed by the council’s decision to refuse planning permission. The regeneration of Forest Court would turn a dated and run-down precinct into a vibrant development, providing retail, social and community benefits for the people of Dorridge. We will now have to consider our options regarding the site.”