SOLIHULL’s historic Manor House looks set to give in to the controversial expansion to the Touchwood shopping centre.
The Observer understands trustees of the Solihull Manor House Charity, who previously opposed plans to extend Touchwood on account of the damage that would be caused to the house’s Grade II* listed gardens, are close to agreeing to drop their opposition in exchange for £300,000 from developers LendLease and allocated car parking spaces in the new development.
Trustees had previously opposed the Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) from Solihull Council on behalf of Touchwood which would have forced the Manor House to give up a portion of land currently used as its car park.
The land would then be absorbed into the Touchwood development and 50ft walls built on three sides of the Manor House gardens.
Committee members argued the walls would prevent sunlight from reaching the plants and trees and result in the historic garden’s death – causing them to launch their ‘Save the Secret Garden’ campaign in November last year against the proposals.
They argued that while the Manor House, dating back to 1495, is protected by its Grade II* listing status, the death of the garden could threaten the ‘viability of the property’s future’.
But trustees now appear to have done a u-turn on their position – potentially accepting the CPO and proposed developments in exchange for the cash and car parking deal – along with ammendments to the high walls.
Solihull Council in November 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.
A spokesperson for the Solihull Manor House told the Observer: “A deal is currently being considered which may result in a decision to remove the objection if we agree a suitable parking and compensation package which would be sufficient to remove any detrimental loss of the car park.
“The trustees of the Solihull Manor House have a legal duty to act in the best interest of the Manor House and to safeguard the future of the building for future generations.”