THE future of the controversial Heart of Shirley project has been thrown into doubt after the developer announced the plans have been put on hold until at least mid-2010.
Shirley Advance, which has devised the £100 million mixed use development in partnership with Solihull Council, also said the scheme was being scaled down, which could mean shops being built on one level only rather than two.
The scheme, which was given planning approval in 2006, included an 80,000 sq ft Asda superstore, cafes and restaurants and 200-plus apartments.
It was delayed after shops in Stratford Road appealed against compulsory Purchase Orders but a public inquiry in December 2008 upheld these clearing the way for work to begin.
Robert Birch, of Shirley Advance, said: “Many development schemes have suffered over the last few months and we are looking at the viability issues concerning Parkgate.”
Conservative leader of the council, Ken Meeson said there was no question of the development being shelved. “It is vital it goes ahead because the commercial centre of Shirley badly needs to be revitalised,” he said.
Solihull’s Liberal Democrat MP Lorely Burt and Lib Dem councillors for Shirley, together with the pressure group Keep Shirley Alive, have fought against the project.
Mrs Burt said: “Shirley needs regeneration that will help bring trade to local shopkeepers rather than push them out of business.
“Solihull Council has mismanaged the whole process from start to finish.”