Image from Solihull Council.
Brand-new images reveal what an ageing Solihull shopping parade is set to look like once a major redevelopment is complete.
The council has released artist’s concepts for the long-awaited Kingshurst “village centre” and an updated masterplan for the scheme.
The latest layout will form the basis for the full planning application, which is due to be submitted in late October.
Pictures show the general design has retained many of the elements included in a previous bird’s eye view, published early last year.
A revamped road layout separates five main areas, four consisting of housing and the fifth, in the north east corner, including shops and community facilities.
In terms of homes, plans point to 79 properties across the entire site – ranging from a dozen one-bed maisonettes to 16 four-bed houses.
“A majority” will apparently be designated social rent – crucial in an area with a clear need for affordable housing – although the council has not yet given an exact number.
When it comes to shopping facilities there will be an anchor store – the Co-Op – and a row of four smaller retail units.
One of the most noticeable changes from last year’s version of the plans is that the health centre is now billed as the “community and health centre.”
It will bring the likes of a GP surgery, pharmacy and dentists under one roof, although crucially it is also expected to include space for residents to meet-up.
This follows a community push to reopen the old Kingshurst Youth and Community Centre on a trial basis, which was intended to prove the demand for having a hub in the heart of the area.
The latest plans also pick out an area of green space near St Barnabas Church, which will be given some attention by the council’s landscape and ecology team.
There will also be a new vicarage for the church itself and a 75-space car park to serve the village centre’s visitors.
As for the artist’s concepts, they give a clearer idea of how the area might look following the removal of the ageing 1960s precinct.
The cone-shape artwork which stands on the existing Kingshurst Parade is one of the few recognisable features in a radically altered landscape.
Council officers have previously spoken about a project intended to promote healthier lifestyles and discourage anti-social behaviour.
Enclosed walkways which were likened to something from “a prison” last year will be replaced with more spacious surroundings, opening onto neighbouring parkland.
While these images are likely to be very close to the final proposal, the council has left the door open to some alterations following the close of a public consultation which gets underway this week.
A council spokesman said: “Your feedback will help us to refine the design before submitting the full planning application at the end of October.
“This will confirm the detail of the development and, if granted, allow us to move forward to the next stage of the redevelopment.”
Public drop-in sessions will take place on the Parade on Tuesday, September 21 (3-6.30pm) and Thursday, September 23 (11.30am-2.30pm).
An online consultation will also be available from now until October 10. Go to – https://tinyurl.com/rykud326
A long-awaited scheme:
The Kingshurst Parade scheme has suffered a series of false start since plans were first tabled more than 15 years ago.
Once expected to be among the early achievements of the North Solihull Regeneration, residents had to watch and wait while revamps at Chelmund’s Cross and North Arran Way went ahead first.
Issues over acquiring all relevant pieces of land were said to have hobbled the project’s progress.
At one stage there were fears the council would fall back on a watered down refurbishment rather than a wholesale rebuild.
But the original ambition has survived and while the wider regeneration is over, the council has committed to completing the final piece of the jigsaw.
The temporary relocation of IM Hadfield Opticians and Browns Pharmacy will be among the first concrete signs of activity on the ground.
The long-standing businesses will be moved to the old Dolly’s Diner and Martin’s newsagents while the new health centre is built.
And in a welcome boost for residents, it was recently confirmed that a post office would also be run out of the chemist from September 24.
Although the coming months also bring concerns about how plans impact on housing tenants.
Solihull Community Housing (SCH) last week admitted a “very small number” of people renting privately stand to lose their homes.
A spokesman said: “We discuss a range of housing options on a case-by-case basis to help families find suitable alternative accommodation.”
On the funding front the council is hoping to secure more than £6 million from the government’s Levelling Up Fund, to add to grants already secured.
Although cabinet was told last week that even a successful bid would still leave the council slightly short of the total project costs, previously estimated at around £34 million.
Words: David Irwin, Local Democracy Reporter