Controversial proposals to build a modern shopping centre in a Solihull village have been thrown out as unsuitable.
Around 150 residents turned out to see Solihull council’s planning committee reject an application by Sainsbury’s to construct a shopping centre incorporating a supermarket, doctor’s surgery and cafe in the outdated Forest Court precinct in Dorridge.
Despite being recommended for approval by borough planners, the committee unanimously ruled out the design and scale as threatening to the “village” atmosphere.
It was widely agreed that the centre – dating from the 1960s – was run-down and in desperate need of regeneration.
But councillors, Meriden MP Caroline Spelman and campaigning group Dorridge Residents Opposed to Village Superstore all raised fears over levels of traffic, parking, the impact of service yard deliveries on nearby households and the loss of dozens of mature trees.
They called for the application to be rejected outright or deferred to be considered at the same time as one for a Waitrose supermarket in nearby Knowle, which was submitted to Solihull council this week.
Bruno Moore, Sainsbury’s regional town planning manager, suggested the project would “stitch the heart of Dorridge back together” and said the company had set aside a £250,000 bond to address any unforeseen problems arising as a result.
“It’s simply not in our interest to create traffic chaos,” he added.
Planning officers deemed the scheme was “unlikely to result in a significant increase” of shopping trips, suggesting people would “shop elsewhere or use a different mode of travel” at busy times. But committee member Coun Jim Ryan said the designs paved the way for “a village of gridlock”. “This is a town development proposal in a village,” he added.
Coun Jeff Potts also queried where store staff would park, noting the report suggested they would be unable to do so in the car park or on nearby residential roads.