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Car parking deficit threat to town plan

A LACK of car parking spaces would utterly scupper plans to redevelop Shirley town centre, a public inquiry has heard.

A LACK of car parking spaces would utterly scupper plans to redevelop Shirley town centre, a public inquiry has heard.

This week the local authority is defending its decision to reject the Parkgate scheme on the ground of insufficient parking.

Twice the development, anchored by an Asda superstore, was thrown out by the planning committee.

Solihull Council argues there would be a shortage and that many more shoppers would give Shirley a wide berth.

Anthony Crean QC, for the council, said there was “only one opportunity” to get the project right.

“The proposal before this inquiry is right in many respects but wrong in one important way,” he said.

“If the parking arrangements are deficient then the experience of shopping at Shirley town centre will be frustrating and unsatisfactory.”

In an opening statement, he warned that a known problem would force visitors to take their custom elsewhere.

But Richard Humphreys QC, representing developers Shirley Advance, argued the provision was more than adequate.

Residents’ groups, businesses and local councillors have also had their say during the four-day inquiry, due to finish this afternoon (Friday).

It’s not the first time that Planning Inspector David Cullingford has considered plans to revitalise Shirley town centre.

“I was here at a public inquiry in 1998 and it’s disappointed that we’re still talking about the same issues 13-years on,” he said.

Because a larger version of the same scheme was approved, in 2005, Mr Cullingford has said opponents “will need to do some persuading”.

His decision to uphold or overturn Solihull Council’s decision is expected in the summer.

 

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