THE FACE of Solihull town centre is set to change once more as plans to extend Touchwood have been handed to the Council this week.
If the proposals, which were drawn up by Touchwood’s parent company Lendlease, are given the green light by planning chiefs the extension would see the creation of a new open street leading from the High Street to a new courtyard, and an extra 30 shops, restaurants and cafés.
The extension proposals would create up 400 permanent new jobs and a further 500 jobs during the construction process.
Lendlease has also suggested a new location on Homer Road for the drop-off zone currently situated on Manor Square and it has also agreed to a 15-minute grace period to allow disabled and ambulant visitors to be dropped off in Touchwood’s carparks, providing easy access to Shopmobility.
The plans also include a covered arcade to link Touchwood’s existing Atrium with the New Court.
Lendlease conducted extensive consultation ahead of submitting the application, with the plans receiving a very positive response from local residents and other stakeholders.
More than 800 people visited a public exhibition held over two weekends in March and 274 questionnaires were completed at the exhibition or submitted online.
Of the 237 people that answered the question ‘Do you support the proposals to improve and extend Touchwood’, 81 per cent replied Yes.
Similarly positive feedback was received at a series of meetings held by Lendlease with local businesses and other stakeholder groups.
Commenting on the submission of the application, Guy Thomas, Head of Retail Asset Management at Lendlease, said: “The extensive consultation has highlighted a very strong level of support for the new shops and restaurants, as well as the planned enhancements to the public realm.
“Responses collected via the consultation questionnaire also revealed the majority of respondents would visit Solihull town centre more frequently to shop or dine as a consequence of the extension, which will help to boost the local economy and make Solihull an even more appealing place to work, shop or visit.”
Planning chiefs at the Council are set to make decision on the application by the autumn.