Question mark lingers over Touchwood shopping centre extension

The current shape of a long-delayed scheme to extend Touchwood shopping centre was discussed behind closed doors this week.

Members of Solihull Council’s resources and delivering value scrutiny board received an update on the “latest position” of the large-scale development, which would also involve the relocation of the Council House.

There has been no news on the status of the project – which was approved in late 2015 – since the developer’s announcement in March last year that it was not in a position to move forward with the scheme at that time.

There were discussions among councillors in the private part of Monday night’s meeting, following speculation in recent months that the scheme could be permanently shelved.

Members of the press and public were barred on the grounds that the information on the agenda related to sensitive “financial or business affairs”.

CGI concept from 2015 illustrated what the Touchwood extension would look like.

Cllr James Burn, leader of Solihull’s Green Party group, said: “This deal has been looking shaky for some time, and after all the controversy this development has caused, we may now be back at square one.

“This situation should make the council very cautious about the situation around the retail sector and what that means for their plans for the town centre.

“Along with Brexit, this is another sign that we need to concentrate on building a home grown economy based on local small and medium-sized businesses that are committed to and plough their takings back into Solihull and that will make our town and town centre far more economically resilient.”

The plans approved almost three years ago included the creation of 30 new retail outlets and restaurants, which supporters had said would be a big boost to Solihull town centre’s economy.

Although the scheme also attracted criticism, with a number of compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) required for nearby business premises.

Concerns were also raised about the impact that the expanded shopping centre would have on Solihull’s Manor House – a 15th century building in the High Street.

Trustees at the historic site eventually came to an agreement with developers and the local authority in 2016.

When the last statement was issued 18 months ago, Solihull Council had suggested the earliest start date would be the beginning of 2018.

Providing an update today, a spokesperson said: “In June this year, Solihull Council wrote to [developer] Lendlease to request their latest position with regard to their proposed Touchwood extension, as those affected by the extension need to know whether it is going ahead. The council is still awaiting a response.”

A spokesperson for Lendlease said: “We remain in ongoing dialogue with the council with regard to the development, however it would not be appropriate to comment further at the present time.”


Source link

More from Matthew Eileen

Trimmings aimed at more agile Barclays

The aim is to dismantle the centralised structure of Barclays Africa, which...
Read More