Controversial plans to transform Shirley go back to the drawing board
A £100 million project to transform Shirley town centre is going back to the drawing board after the recession has left developers fearing its viability.
The Parkgate development to transform Shirley, near Solihull, includes an Asda superstore, dozens of other shops, cafes and restaurants and 200-plus apartments, but developers Shirley Advance yesterday admitted plans were being revised in light of the economic downturn.
Robert Birch, head of the scheme, said plans to build retail shops over two levels could be down-scaled to one level only.
Work, which was supposed to begin at the end of last year, will be put on hold until at least the summer of 2010.
Mr Birch said: “Many development schemes have suffered problems over the last few months with what’s going on in the global economy and we are looking at the viability issues towards Parkgate.”
He said the scheme would not change “fundamentally”, adding: “We haven’t spent the last five years and many millions of pounds just to ditch it because of a glitch in the economy”.
Solihull Council Leader Coun Ken Meeson said: “There’s certainly no intention of dropping or shelving it, instead we will need to look what is still viable about it. In light of the recession it’s vital we remain committed to it. Shirley high street was once known as the golden mile because it was so successful but now it is well down the retail rankings and something must be done to change this.”
The scheme, in the pipeline for more than five years, has been fiercely opposed by local residents, retailers and councillors.
It was given planning permission by the council in September 2006 but was delayed after dozens of shops in Stratford Road appealed against Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs). A public inquiry in December 2008 upheld the CPOs, forcing the closure of the shops.