Controversial plans for Touchwood expansion to be heard in private next week - The Solihull Observer

Controversial plans for Touchwood expansion to be heard in private next week

Sarah Mason 28th Feb, 2019 Updated: 28th Feb, 2019   0

CONTROVERSIAL plans for Touchwood shopping centre’s expansion are on the agenda once again at Solihull Council.

Matters about the scheme are set to be discussed by councillors in a private session of a meeting on Monday (March 4).

The Solihull Observer has learned councillors on the Resources and Delivering Value scrutiny board will discuss alternative options for the council’s accommodation and main office needs.

A spokesperson for LLRP said: “Lend Lease Retail Partnership confirms the proposed extension to Touchwood, which was granted planning permission in November 2015, is under review.

“Further information will be announced in due course.”

In September the Solihull Observer learned the same committee discussed plans to bring the scheme dubbed ‘Touchwood Two’ to a close, 18 months after it was shelved in March 2017.

When the scheme was shelved Solihull MP Julian Knight was urging for the council and developer to engage so the end result would be best for Solihull’s economy, jobs and the environment.

The proposals to extend Touchwood would have seen the demolition of the Council House and the Compulsory Purchase of several neighbouring business units.

In 2017 LLRP announced, following a strategic review, that it is ‘not in a position to move the project forward at this stage’.

The proposed project has resulted in years of discussions, public exhibitions, businesses being forced to relocate for the development and the fight to protect certain sites such as the Manor House Gardens, which resulted in a high-profile campaign featured in The Observer.

Approval had been given for the controversial plans during a two-hour long meeting in November 2015.

The plans would have seen the creation of 30 new shops and restaurants through the extension of a two-storey covered arcade that would connect the current Touchwood centre to new High Street and Church Hill Road entrances.

At the meeting councillors heard from ten members of the public who objected to the plans over concerns they would adversely impact Solihull’s heritage.

But, rather than rejecting the proposed developments, councillors instead told developers LendLease to go back to the drawing board on two design elements – the glass-fronted ‘Belevedere’ elevation facing St Alphege Church, and the proposed walls surrounding the Grade II* Listed Manor House.

This meant LendLease would have drawn up new plans before Solihull Council approved the final scheme.

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