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Town Centre Masterplan – have your say on the future of the town centre

A number of ‘Big Move’ proposals placing the community at the heart of a transformed town centre are to be shared with Royal Sutton Coldfield residents, community groups and businesses as the highly anticipated town centre masterplan public consultation is launched.

Over the next three weeks, consultants from urban design and planning experts Tibbalds CampbellReith will present their inspirational vision for Sutton Coldfield town centre and the associated ‘Big Moves’ to deliver this, which include:

  • Closing Brassington Avenue to through-traffic, allowing two-way traffic on Victoria Road and Queen Street, and improving walking and cycling links between Parade, Birmingham Road, Sutton Park and the historic High Street
  • Improving Station Street and the top of Parade to develop a fitting entrance to the town and better connect the £20m HS2 Gateway and train station with the town centre;
  • Creating a series of new public squares to become meeting places within the town centre, regularly hosting great markets, art installations and engaging events, with a new Royal Sutton Coldfield library and cultural facility/museum adjacent to one of these;
  • Supporting our various shopping centres to diversify and attract more leisure, restaurant, bar and café operators alongside high-quality and niche retailers;
  • Encouraging more and sympathetic residential development to continue to bring people into our town centre building a sense of local community and support the shops and services in the town centre during the day, evening and at night;
  • Providing more office space, ranging from hot-desks to grow the latest generation of Sutton Coldfield entrepreneurs through to flexible offices that support businesses wishing to scale-up and stay in the town centre.

The consultation, which launches today and runs until Monday 2 March, marks a critical milestone in the town centre’s journey to becoming a community-focused destination that is fit for the for the next 50 years. Residents and businesses now have a historic opportunity to help reinvent the town centre to ensure it’s a great place to work, live and visit for decades to come.

The first phase of the town centre masterplan was commissioned in November 2019 by the Town Centre Regeneration Partnership and part-funded via Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP)’s Towns and Local Centres funding, to help Royal Sutton Coldfield adapt to the struggles seen in town centres across the UK. Changing consumer habits, such as more people shopping online, and the increasing cost of running a business on the high street have had a real impact on Royal Sutton Coldfield with most tangible examples being the closures Marks and Spencer and BHS. Our Town is far from alone in this but there is a real need for action. Phase one of the £150,000 masterplan has already seen Tibbalds CampbellReith carry out initial research with shoppers, landowners and businesses to better understand how, when and why people use and want to visit the town centre. This work has informed the ‘Big Move’ proposals.

The ‘Big Moves’ provide tangible and practical opportunities to lead in the delivery of Birmingham City Council’s ambitions to improve local environments for citizens as set out in the Birmingham Development Plan and Urban Centres Framework, the draft Birmingham Transport Plan, and the Walking and Cycling Strategy. Particular attention is also being paid to the current Sutton Coldfield Town Centre Regeneration Framework, published in 2009 (well before the changes seen in retail over recent years), to ensure the masterplan, once complete, can complement and eventually update this statutory document that guides planning in the town centre.

The Partnership was formed in 2018 and brings together local and regional partners and property owners in support of Royal Sutton Coldfield town centre. Representatives include Royal Sutton Coldfield Town Council, Birmingham City Council, GBSLEP, Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, FOLIO Sutton Coldfield, Sutton Coldfield BID, West Midlands Combined Authority and Transport for West Midlands.

Community groups and local businesses have been invited to attend dedicated consultation workshops with public drop-in sessions taking place on Saturday 22 February between 10am and 5pm in the town centre and on Thursday 27 February at Mere Green Community Centre (12.30pm – 2.30pm), St John’s Church, Walmley (12pm – 2pm), St Emmanuel’s Church, Wylde Green (12pm – 2pm) and Communitea Café, Boldmere (12pm – 2pm). Residents who attend the drop-in sessions will hear first-hand the suggested Big Moves, can ask questions and share their views and aspirations on the town centre’s future.

An opportunity for online feedback will also be available between Friday 14 February and Monday 2 March via www.tiny.cc/suttonmasterplan

Leader of Royal Sutton Coldfield Town Council and Chairman of the Town Centre Regeneration Partnership, Councillor Simon Ward, said:

This is an incredibly exciting time for our Royal Town as we continue to carve out the masterplan and drive a bright future for our town centre. Our community must be at the very heart of a reimagined town centre and with the input of residents of all ages, community groups and local businesses we will be able to move forward confidently, knowing that we are delivering a vision and masterplan that is something that people really want.  This work will restore the fortunes of our Royal Town and give us a centre we can all be really proud of and that investors will aspire to be a part of.

The Big Moves that will be presented by Tibbalds CampbellReith over the next three weeks provide an opportunity to be involved in shaping the next exciting chapter in the history of our Royal Town and we’re looking forward to hearing the feedback during this exciting and inspirational part of our masterplan development.”

Katie Trout, Director of Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) said:

Having kick started the master plan process with our Towns and Local Centres (TLC) funding along with the Town Council and Sutton Coldfield BID, we are very pleased to see such strong progress being made. GBSLEP is focused on supporting the success of our towns, building distinctive and thriving places where people want to visit, work and live.

As an active participant in the Regeneration Partnership, GBSLEP is keen that the views of communities inform Sutton Coldfield’s future and would encourage as many people to get involved in the consultation as possible.”

Speaking about the town centre public consultation, Andrew Mitchell, Sutton Coldfield’s Member of Parliament, said:

Royal Sutton Coldfield Town Council is proceeding in the right way to secure real progress for our town centre. It follows a substantial consultation carried out by myself and Andy Street across the town last year.

Resolution of the complex issues holding us back will depend upon the West Midlands Mayor and Birmingham City Council rowing in hard behind the Town Council’s excellent initiative. It has my full support.”

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said:

It is very exciting to see the start of the public consultation on the masterplan for the town centre – Sutton Coldfield really is leading the way on reinventing the modern high street.

This isn’t about a quick fix, it’s about creating a long-term, visionary piece that reimagines the centre of Sutton town, and makes the big moves and changes that are right for the unique population there is here.

When Andrew Mitchell and I carried out a survey on what local people wanted for their town centre we got a remarkable response, and it’s encouraging that those ideas chime with the emerging proposal for the masterplan.

I urge local people to engage with this consultation, and the West Midlands Combined Authority is ready to help the Town Centre Regeneration Partnership bring to fruition whatever the plan proposes.”

Associate at Tibbalds Planning and Urban Design, Richard Crutchley, said:

Sutton Coldfield is a unique town with unrealised potential, and we now have the opportunity to usher in a new chapter that will allow us to respond to the local community’s needs and aspirations, and recognise new development opportunities – all in harmony, and with the commitment from the Regeneration Partnership. The Big Moves focus on improving how people get to and around the town centre, what people do when they’re there, and more residential and office space.

The team has a wealth of experience on similar schemes across the country and this, combined with our extensive local research, has led to our proposed Big Moves which we will be discussing as part of our upcoming public consultation. In addition to planned investment in an HS2 Gateway, there are a number of funding opportunities available to help deliver the masterplan following this phase that are currently being considered.”

The £150,000 to fund the masterplan comes from GBSLEP, Royal Sutton Coldfield Town Council and Sutton Coldfield BID. Phase two of the masterplan will provide further detail on how to fund and deliver the Big Move proposals and bring crucial investment into the town centre. The presentation of the masterplan phase one document is expected in April 2020.

ENDS 

(L-R) Katie Trout – Director of Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership, David Hemming – Sutton Coldfield BID, Andrew Mitchell – MP for Sutton Coldfield, Councillor Simon Ward – Leader of Royal Sutton Coldfield Town Council and Chairman of the Town Centre Regeneration Partnership and Andy Street – Major of the West Midlands.