The current shape of a long-delayed scheme to extend Touchwood shopping centre in Solihull, was reviewed behind closed doors this week. The press was fenced from a discussion following conjecture in recent months that the scheme could be permanently shelved.
Cllr James Burn, leader of Solihull’s Green Party group, said: “This deal has been looking shaky for some time, and after all the controversy this development has caused, we may now be back at square one.
“This situation should make the council very cautious about the situation around the retail sector and what that means for their plans for the town centre.
“Along with Brexit, this is another sign that we need to concentrate on building a home grown economy based on local small and medium-sized businesses that are committed to and plough their takings back into Solihull and that will make our town and town centre far more economically resilient.”
The plans permitted almost three years ago included the creation of 30 new retail outlets and restaurants, which supporters had said would be a huge increase to Solihull town centre’s economy.
Although the scheme also attracted criticism, with a number of compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) required for nearby business premises.
Interests were also raised about the effect that the expanded shopping centre would have on Solihull’s Manor House – a 15th century building in the High Street. The large-scale development, which would also involve the relocation of the Council House.
Providing an update, a spokesperson said: “In June this year, Solihull Council wrote to [developer] Lendlease to request their latest position with regard to their proposed Touchwood extension, as those affected by the extension need to know whether it is going ahead. The council is still awaiting a response.”
A spokesperson for Lendlease said: “We remain in ongoing dialogue with the council with regard to the development, however it would not be appropriate to comment further at the present time.”