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Is Waitrose plan right for Knowle?

THE long awaited revised plans for a controversial Waitrose store in Knowle were unveiled last weekend - and still opinion is divided.

THE long awaited revised plans for a controversial Waitrose store in Knowle were unveiled last weekend - and still opinion is divided.

Developers behind the proposal said more than 1,000 residents visited the exhibition held in the village hall last Friday and Saturday (June 17 and 18).

The company has now scrapped plans to knock down the village hall although this would be refurbished in the revised proposals and a smaller store would be sited on an unused bowling green by the Red Lion car park.

Five bungalows would also be demolished and 257 car parking spaces would be made available compared to the previously proposed 180.

Importantly to many villagers the delivery route would change with lorries entering via the service entrance to the left of Wine Rack on Station Road.

The Solihull News took to Knowle High Street to ask villagers and local businesses their opinion.

Paul Taylor is the owner of New Covent Garden greengrocers. He said a Waitrose store would be disastrous for his business.

“I was told by Kimberley Developments that I am the most vulnerable shop in the village. I am dead opposed to it - even if it brought me an extra 25 per cent more customers I would still be against it.

“Waitrose say the store will bring an extra 25 per cent more shoppers into Knowle but the car park won’t be able to cope with that so the reverse would happen with people saying ‘I can’t park’ so they will shop elsewhere.

“It’s major bad news for me, I will be gone within a year if they open it.”

And just a few shops away Peter Lyons, owner of long standing butcher’s Eric Lyons said he was still concerned about the parking but hoped his customers would still shop at the butchers which has been a fixture in the village for decades. He said: “If the store does go up then Knowle will never have the same village feel.”

But local resident Sandra Field supports the development.

The mum of two said: “The developers have now taken the needs of the villagers into account and I think a Waitrose will be more popular than the Tesco .

“It will also bring jobs to the area.”

A spokesperson for Waitrose said: “We have continued to work on the proposal since first bringing it forward last year and were encouraged by the reaction to the revisions we have made.

“The feedback from local people has been, and remains invaluable in developing our proposals to help ensure they are right for Knowle.”

 

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