SOLIHULL: CGI reveals redesigned village centre
Image: Balsall Parish Council
Balsall Common could see a radical redesign of its centre within the next five years as part of plans to “modernise” the middle of the rapidly expanding village.
Initial concept art for sweeping alterations to the area – which has been little changed for many years – was recently unveiled to the public.
A redesigned roundabout in the heart of the village, outdoor “lounge” areas, increased parking spaces and new access to the park are among the proposals.
Plans will also tap into the European-style “Shared Space” schemes, giving greater priority to pedestrians at busy locations and aiming to slow down traffic.
A revised set of plans should be available this autumn, although a finished project on the ground is still several years away.
Parish councillor Andrew Burrow said: “I think people like the convenience of the centre, but I don’t think anybody thinks it’s particularly a good representation of the people who live in Balsall Common.
“We need the project because Balsall Common is going to expand; it’s going to expand very radically – about two thirds an increase in its size.
“And that brings both challenges and opportunities and one of the opportunities is that there will be money to pay to improve the centre.”
More than 350 residents came through the doors for one of the first in-person consultation events since Covid moved things online early last year.
Mr Burrow said that the team driving the project – a mix of parish councillors and residents – had found the exercise incredibly useful.
Engineering firm Arup are lending their expertise, while there is also input from transport bosses at Solihull Council.
The aim now is to sift through the many responses received from members of the public and adjust proposals where possible. A refined masterplan is expected to be released next month.
“Naturally in a community you can get diametrically opposed opinions and in some cases there is no a solution that satisfies everyone,” Mr Burrow told the Local Democracy Reporting Service.
“However, there is much from the feedback that has been very helpful.”
Back in March we reported that the project had received a £25,000 grant from Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to help advance the designs.
Although there will now be a “hunt for money” from central government and the developers’ Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) to make the plans a reality.
Co-ordinators have said that, based on the experiences of introducing a much smaller-scale traffic-calming project to neighbouring Berkswell , it could be “three or four years” to get to a completed project.
The scheme’s dedicated website is available to view here – https://tinyurl.com/4m2aja45
Words: David Irwin, Local Democracy Reporter
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