News

Plans for new look North Solihull unveiled

(20th November 2006)

The first images of a series of new village centres set to transform North Solihull in the coming years have been unveiled.

The five new high quality shopping and community areas are part of the ambitious £1.8bn Regenerating North Solihull programme, which will also see thousands of new homes and ten new primary schools built over the next 15 years.

The first two new village centres are set to replace existing facilities at Craig Croft in Chelmsley Wood, and at North Arran Way in Smith's Wood, where £45million and £20million is set to be invested respectively. Following detailed community consultation sessions, plans for these first two village centres are now being worked up by the project's design team and outline planning applications are expected to be submitted to Solihull Council later this year.

Janet Bradbury, chief executive of North Solihull Partnership, the consortium behind the regeneration programme said: "The driving force for this ambitious 15 year project is to take one of the region's most deprived areas and transform it into a sustainable, vibrant and exciting area of which the residents can be rightly proud.

"Because the residents are the most important people in this whole project, we have gone to great lengths to find out what it is they want from regeneration. What the plans and images for the first two village centres in North Solihull reflect is a long running consultation process with residents and traders, and many are delighted to see the progress that is now being made to get the project moving."

The £45million Craig Croft scheme is expected to be the largest of the five new village centres, and the pre-planning work depicts it being developed around two squares. The Enterprise Square is proposed to include enterprise space for innovative and emerging industries, as well as units for voluntary and local need organisations and local authority staff.

The proposed Craig Croft Community Square will include a new primary school, a new healthcare centre as well as a church and community centre. Linking the two squares will be a continental-style pedestrianised area with public art, shops, cafes and restaurants at street level and more than 60 high specification apartments above.

North Solihull's area-changing programme has been brought about because its three wards of Chelmsley Wood, Smith's Wood and Kingshurst & Fordbridge fall within the UK's top 10 per cent of deprived neighbourhoods. The development consortium that make up the North Solihull Partnership include Bellway Homes, investment-led regeneration company Inpartnership Ltd, Solihull Council and Registered Social Landlord Whitefriars Housing Group.

Mrs Bradbury said the idea behind the village centre plans was to create an area that people naturally associated with, and which provides leisure, shopping and health facilities, alongside activities for the whole community. She said: "One of the main concerns voiced by residents during the consultation process was crime and anti-social behaviour, which the regeneration of the area will tackle. 

"For instance, the project team has specifically designed out the old alley ways at the back of shops. By siting apartments above the shops, the rear elevation will be overlooked by the new homes, instead of places where gangs of youths have traditionally gathered."

The £20million village centre at North Arran Way in Smith's Wood is due to be developed close to the site of Kingfisher School and will entail a new primary school, a youth and community facility, and a new elongated market square and High Street. The market square will boast 15 new shops, which developers hope to be taken up by a number of independent, good quality local traders - including existing businesses - providing a range of goods for local people.

"It is important that these village centres become focal points for the surrounding community and the best way of doing that is by providing and encouraging good quality amenities," said Janet Bradbury.

"North Solihull has long been the poor cousin of its more affluent neighbours in the south of the borough, but this ambitious scheme is narrowing that gap to a point in the future where we hope people will aspire to live and work in North Solihull."

Other proposed new village centres will be at Bosworth Drive near the Prince Hal pub, which should be completed by 2010, Kingshurst Parade, which will be completed by 2015, and Bacon's End, which will be completed by 2019, although the exact location is yet to be finalised.

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