IS the heart of Shirley down and out?
Not, according to Richard Wise from action group Keep Shirley Alive, who undertook a survey of similar shopping parades in the light of the Parkgate planning application. The Shirley resident was keen to compare the town with similar ‘ribbon’ shopping parades bisected by busy main roads.
“I walked the Stratford Road on Tuesday September 21 between Olton Rd and Church Road and counted 138 shops, outlets and frontage businesses, excluding churches and community buildings. Of these only 11 were empty or to let – 8 per cent for Shirley against a national average of 13 per cent! The relatively wide pavements, flower boxes and street furniture looked attractive and clean and there were a lot of shoppers about for a Tuesday.”
In comparison says Richard, Kings Heath, which is similar in size, had 13 empty units but a wider variety of shops. However narrower pavements meant pollution from traffic was unpleasant.
Northfield, which has a modern indoor shopping parade and multi-storey car park as an anchor at one end of the parade, similar to the proposed location of Parkgate, still had 12 empty or to let units.
Once thriving, Stirchley, says Richard now has 122 units with 36 empty or to let.
“For my money Shirley wins hands down as the most pleasant and attractive shopping area and with free parking,” he said.