TRUSTEES of the Manor House have signed an agreement with LendLease and Solihull Council and given in to the controversial expansion of Touchwood shopping centre.
The agreement, which the Observer exclusively revealed earlier this month, has been reached after ‘intensive’ negotiations and will see the car park at the back of the Manor House relinquished for the expansion of the shopping centre.
In exchange, the Manor House will receive £300,000 from developers LendLease, a contribution to landscaping, the creation of new servicing access, and parking spaces in the new development.
The trustees of the Solihull Manor House Charity had previously opposed Touchwood’s extension plans on account of the damage that would be caused to the house’s Grade II* listed gardens.
They argued the 50ft walls which would be built on three sides of the Manor House gardens would prevent sunlight from reaching the plants and trees, resulting in the historic garden’s death and potentially threatening the ‘viability of the property’s future’.
But trustees have done a u-turn on their position – accepting to relinquish the car park and proposed developments in exchange for the cash and car parking deal – along with ammendments to the high walls.
Arguing their actions have helped ‘safeguard one of the town’s most important buildings’ for years to come, a spokesperson for the Trustees of the Solihull Manor House Charity, said: “The Solihull Manor House Charity committee has unanimously decided to enter into an agreement that helps secure the long-term viability of the Grade II listed Manor House and the Manor House Tea Rooms.
“As Trustees, we have to act in the best interests of the Charity and in signing this agreement we believe we are doing just that.
“We are pleased to have secured the means to provide a successful future for one of the most cherished aspects of Solihull town centre.
“On behalf of the Trustees, I would like to thank all of those who have provided their support and we look forward to continuing to welcome visitors to the Manor House for many more years to come and to preserve the legacy of this historic building.”
Build in 1495, the Solihull Manor House has been a constant feature in the town centre.
In November, Solihull Council told LendLease – owners of Touchwood – to go back to the drawing board over two small details of its extension proposals – the glass-fronted elevation facing St Alphege Church and the proposed walls surrounding the Manor House.