Solihull Cabinet approved a refreshed plan for further investment into Shirley, supporting its development as a thriving town centre, at a Cabinet meeting on Thursday 3 December.
The investment is supported by the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership’s (GBSLEP) Enabling Fund for Towns and Local Centres, alongside the Council.
The refreshed Economic Plan recognises that while Shirley continues to trade well with few vacancies, there is a need to continue to support activities for the development of the area and to engage with businesses in order to ensure it remains a vibrant and popular retail centre.
A series of engagement activities including sessions with key stakeholders, business surveys and a review of consumer and retail trends, were undertaken to inform the Economic Plan, which will be a blueprint for enhancing the offer to shoppers and local businesses alike.
Furthermore, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, an Action Plan has been refined to reflect priorities for the next 12 months, during the high street’s ‘Pre-Recovery and Recovery’ phase.
The GBSLEP announced an Enabling Fund for Towns and Local Centres in 2018, to support the priorities within its Strategic Economic Plan (SEP). A bid to the GBSLEP’s Enabling Fund for £50,000 was accepted for Shirley town centre in 2019, allocating £25,000 to deliver a new Economic Plan. The additional £25,000 can now be used as intended, alongside Council support to deliver the plan’s early aims and activities as outlined in the Action Plan.
Councillor Karen Grinsell, Deputy Leader of Solihull Council, said:
“We have worked hard to engage with businesses, landlords, community groups and ward members and other stakeholders to ensure that Shirley will remain an attractive place to shop and do business.
“The additional funding will allow us to actively support the town centre, firstly to ensure it recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic over the next 6-12 months and then in the longer term.
“The plan demonstrates how we can maximise the strong ‘civic pride’ of the area and explains how we can deliver a co-ordinated approach to place marketing and promotional activities.
“Shirley is a one of our key retail areas within the borough and we are determined to support it. We have listened to local businesses and will continue with this collaborative approach as we begin to implement the Action Plan to meet our shared ambitions for Shirley.”
Louise Brooke-Smith, Board Director for GBSLEP said:
“It’s fantastic to see TLC funding put into use in Shirley. COVID-19 has hit our high streets hard with many independent businesses facing unprecedented challenges and the need to adapt their offering almost overnight. The High Street here is usually a thriving centre bringing businesses and the community together and I am confident it can continue to be so. Through our investment we are enabling visions for the future of our towns and local centres that will deliver activities to support local businesses and enhance local offers. The work being done in Shirley is a reflection of GBSLEP’s commitment to creating places where people want to visit, work and live”.