Oct 20 2011 By Lorely Burt
‘What’s happening with Heart of Shirley?’ that’s a question I’m always being asked on the doorstep in the Shirley area.
Whether or not you supported the Parkgate planning application, in the face of the continued deterioration of the area most people are desperate to see something happen.
I agree, so I met the developers last week to find out what we can expect to see and when.
The first thing they have done is to issue the Compulsory Purchase Order notices for buildings and land they do not currently own. Then there’s a two-month notification before the compulsory purchases can proceed. It is estimated it will take about three months before this is completed, so roughly by the end of March 2012 the work can begin in earnest.
Meanwhile BAM Construction (the preferred supplier of building services who are based in Balsall Common) will be working on the more detailed second stage tender.
We’ll see site work start at the end of March/beginning of April. But there won’t be much to see as the site will be boarded off for safety reasons. What will be going on behind those boards is the site clearance and a hole being dug to accommodate the underground car park.
At the same time the access road to The Royal British Legion and the Scouts will be constructed. The Baptist Church will also be developing an exciting extension to their church in the form of a coffee shop and a Christian book shop, which will back onto the new square.
Late spring/early summer will herald the start of a year-long programme of roadworks on Stratford Road and Haslucks Green Road. The roundabout will be constructed in two halves to ensure traffic will always be able to get through - eventually!
What about that eternal eyesore, the Powergen site? ASDA have a long lease with over 60 years unexpired. Like many people, I’m totally sick of the sight of the building, and look forward to its development – hopefully into something the people of Shirley will be able to enjoy and be proud of.
Believe it or not, there are potentially almost nine acres of site, so there are lots of things it can be used for. I’d like to see a cinema, bingo, bowling, maybe swimming and some social housing. Many of you already put in your ideas when the council did a consultation some time ago. I’m hopeful negotiations to relinquish the lease will begin around November. I’ll keep you posted.
So by autumn 2013 we should see the new development up and running. Even though many of us don’t like the terms, regeneration will finally come to Shirley.
There’ll be about 300 jobs in the construction, then Asda will create 350-400 jobs, and on top of that will come jobs in the new shops. I just hope the developers are right and I am wrong: we’ve lost the parkland and the ring of oaks, but I just hope that as a result of this we won’t lose jobs or shops elsewhere on Stratford Road .