A BOROUGH councillor has called for the developer responsible for the Heart of Shirley project to be sacked and the parkland due to be swallowed up by the development “given back to residents”.
Cllr Howard Allen (Lib Dem, Shirley West) spoke out following the announcement by Shirley Advance that it had put the controversial development on hold until at least mid-2010 due to the recession.
The £100 million Heart of Shirley scheme - also known as Parkgate - was given planning permission by the Conservative-controlled council back in 2006 and includes an 80,000 sq ft Asda superstore, smaller retail outlets and 200-plus apartments.
Cllr Allen, Liberal Democrat colleagues on the council and Solihull’s Lib Dem MP Lorely Burt have strongly opposed the plan on the grounds of its size and because part of Shirley Park would be lost for all time.
“After failing to consult local traders and ignoring local residents’ wishes, Shirley Advance came up with an ill-conceived, oversized scheme,” said Cllr Allen, claiming that the only objective for the council was to make money from it.
“The Liberal Democrats have always supported regeneration of Shirley and it is time to put something sensible in place quickly.
“I would like to see the council-owned land at the former Territorial Army barracks in Haslucks Green Road sold off to the highest bidder so a scheme based on a much smaller supermarket could be commenced within a few months.”
Cllr Allen also criticised the exclusion of the press and public from a council cabinet meeting to be held tomorrow (Thursday) to discuss the future of the Shirley development.
“The Heart of Shirley scheme has been notorious for its lack of consultation and unnecessary secrecy,” he said.
Councillor Ken Meeson, leader of the council, said yesterday the meeting had to be held in private “because of the need for commercial confidentiality”.
“The Heart of Shirley scheme is a joint development between the local authority and a private sector company and some details of the contract are too sensitive to make public,” he said.
“However, the council will issue a statement later.”