|PARADE UPGRADE: The shopping precinct was developed in the 1960s but|
Solihull Council has acknowledged it has grown increasingly dilapidated.
RADICAL plans to redevelop Kingshurst Parade are finally moving forward, although questions remain about how the work will be funded and when it is likely to start.
Last month, Solihull Council outlined a £21million project to replace the ageing shopping precinct, which has become more and more run-down and been hit by dwindling visitor numbers.
Plans to rebuild the Parade have been under discussion for several years, but a series of delays have left local residents increasingly frustrated.
There was further concern last year, when it was suggested that one of the options under consideration would be a more modest plan to refurbish the existing site.
After seeking the views of hundreds of people, the council conceded that the clear majority were in favour of the Parade being completely demolished and replaced with a new development, which the local authority claim will be fit for purpose for the next 50 years.
The scheme which has now been drawn up would include a new medical centre, the creation of a community hub – including a library and offices – 2,000 square metres of retail space and residential units.
Councillor Debbie Evans (UKIP, Kingshurst & Fordbridge) said the redevelopment was “long
overdue”, but argued unanswered questions were still causing anxiety in the local area.
“There is a lot of rumour and innuendo going about, in particular [from] the shopkeepers and I daren’t go shopping on Kingshurst Parade at the moment because I’m hauled into every shop that’s going.
“They are concerned having looked at the rough outline that they will not be housed in the village centre. Now, I need to reassure those shopkeepers that everyone who has been loyal to Kingshurst... will get a place.”
Coun James Burn (Green, Chelmsley Wood) said: “It is really good to get this report to reassure the community that things are moving forward.
“I’m really pleased as well that the community have been listened to...they’ve said overall they
would like complete demolition and that’s what’s being proposed.”
Councillor Ken Hawkins, the cabinet member for the environment, housing and regeneration at the time of the meeting, described the development as “a good investment for the north of the borough”.
“Detailed work is being done to look at the plans and costs and see if we can bring them down,” he said, acknowledging the current shortfall in funding.
A public consultation exercise will begin next month, with more detailed plans set to go back to cabinet in November.
Background: The creation of a new village centre in Kingshurst has always formed part of the Regeneration scheme, but the development has been hampered by delays.
Those residents who have seen work completed on similar projects in Chelmsley Wood and Smith's Wood have grown increasingly frustrated as the timetable for the Parade's own face lift has repeatedly slipped back.
Solihull Council conceded last year that it had been forced to abandon a number of previous proposals amid concerns they would not be commercially viable.
A sense that patience had run out among local people was very much felt at an election hustings which took place last month.
During the debate a number of residents criticised the delays, with David Cole, of Kingshurst Parish Council, suggesting that the Parade had seen its best days a decade ago. At this another member of the audience was heard to mutter "more like 50 years ago."
While the plans which were brought to cabinet a couple of weeks ago are more of a statement of intent than a detailed proposal, the council is keen to show that the project is still going ahead...