PLANS for the extension of the Touchwood Shopping Centre have been approved by Solihull Council.
At a two-hour long meeting last night (November 4) planning chiefs gave the planning application the green light on a 5/4 vote.
The plans will see the creation of 30 new shops and restaurants through the extension of a two-story covered arcade that will connect the current Touchwood centre to new High Street and Church Hill Road entrances.
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 means LendLease will have to draw up new plans before Solihull Council approves the final scheme.
A Solihull Council spokesperson said: “Planning Committee were satisfied that conditions seeking further detail on the architectural treatment and materials on elevations facing the Manor House and St Alphege Church would ensure that the heritage impact was reduced.
“Whilst recognising the concerns of the speakers and objectors, members concluded that the wider economic benefits, including significant investment in the town centre economy and the resultant job creation, outweighed the harm posed by the development.”
Welcoming the Planning Committee’s decision, Solihull MP Julian Knight said: “I think that it is important that we balance jobs and growth, which this project will bring, with the special nature of our town centre.
“I am also grateful to Coun Bell, chairman of the Planning Committee, for listening to my concerns and hearing from ten objectors at the meeting, as opposed to the customary one.”