CONTROVERSIAL expansion plans for Touchwood Shopping Centre could finally be dead in the water – 18 months after a developer ‘shelved’ the project.
The ‘closure’ of the scheme will be discussed by Solihull councillors during private matters at a meeting on Monday (September 3).
The Solihull Observer has learned the councillors on the Resources and Delivering Value Scrutiny Board will be discussing matters relating to bringing the scheme dubbed ‘Touchwood Two’ to a close.
We have learned they will also discuss alternative options for the council’s accommodation main office needs.
When the scheme was temporarily pulled last year, Solihull MP Julian Knight urged the council and developer to engage so the end result would be best for Solihull’s economy, jobs and the environment.
Public opinion had been divided, with campaigners objecting on grounds of the impact on the historic character of Solihull town centre.
It is not clear whether another scheme could be brought forward in future.
In March 2017 the developer Lendlease Retail Partnership (LLRP) announced, following a strategic review, that it is ‘not in a position to move the project forward at this stage’.
The proposed project resulted in years of discussions, public exhibitions, proposals to force businesses to relocate and a fight to protect certain sites such as the Manor House Gardens.
It would have seen the demolition of the council house and the compulsory purchase of several neighbouring business units.
Approval had been given for the controversial plans during a two-hour 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 10 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 had to draw up new plans before Solihull Council considered approving any final scheme.
Lendlease Retail Partnership told us: “We are in dialogue with the council so it would be inappropriate for us to make further comment at the moment.”