Solihull Council is seeking views on its emerging Town Centre Public Realm Strategy and possible options for a phase one concept scheme focused along the High Street.
A six-week public consultation launches today, which aims to help shape the future look, feel and layout of Solihull town centre. Residents, businesses and visitors are being asked for their views on key design principles for future developments which seek to provide continuity across the public spaces, streets and greenspaces within the town centre.
The term ‘public realm’ refers to the space in around and between buildings that is publicly accessible including streets, squares, parks and open spaces. These important areas often act as key settings for public life and social interaction. Whether it’s a high street, or an urban park, the qualities of the public realm are integral to its use and help create the unique character, attractiveness and general feel of place.
Working with design and engineering consultants Arcadis, a draft Public Realm Strategy (PRS) has been carefully developed which sets out an overarching vision for Solihull’s public realm, and identifies a first phase design concept, which demonstrates one option for how this vision might be achieved.
The phase one design concept focuses on Solihull High Street, New Road and the access to Malvern Park via Park Road, which is a key route through the heart of the town centre.
Championing a more sustainable and resilient approach for the town centre public realm, this design concept includes the installation of a green spine made up of ‘rainwater gardens’ providing the area with greenery all year round. The concept design looks at how the pedestrianised core of the town centre might be extended with the creation of an attractive new town square opposite the Grade 1 Listed St Alphege Church. The newly proposed ‘Church Square’ could serve as a focal point and be used to host community and ceremonial events.
The consultation material, which includes a 3D virtual flythrough video showing what the phase one design concept might look like and accompanying survey, can be found on the Council’s website at: www.solihull.gov.uk/publicrealmstrategy
Proposals can also be viewed in person by visiting the Core Library, where the consultation material will be left on display, or by attending one of the planned exhibition events in the town centre. The project team will be hosting two events, on High Street on Wednesday 21 June and again on Saturday 1 July from 11am to 2pm where residents can ask questions about the redevelopment plans and share their views.
Councillor Ken Hawkins, Cabinet Member for Environment and Infrastructure, said:
“Our emerging public realm strategy seeks to help underpin the Council’s strategic aim to support continued investment in our town centre and ensure it remains a vibrant, attractive and welcoming place for everyone to live, work and visit.
“Building on the Solihull Public Realm Masterplan (2016) and Town Centre Conservation Area Appraisal as well as reflecting both Local Plan policies and the recommendations of the Town Centre Masterplan (2020) our draft strategy sets out an overarching vision for Solihull’s public realm. From bins to benches and lighting to street signage we want to ensure our approach to high quality public realm respects and enhances Solihull’s distinctiveness and identity.
“We are still in the very early stages and the proposals set out as part of the phase one concept design simply show one example of how our vision for the area could be achieved, serving as an exemplar for subsequent phases. I think there are some really exciting ideas in there, but this option is not a fixed or final design. We really want to hear what you think so I would encourage all local residents, visitors and people working in the town centre to get involved and share their views. Your feedback will be crucial in helping to shape the future of Solihull’s public realm.”
Residents can sign up to the Council’s new ‘Solihull Town Centre Public Realm Strategy’ Stay Connected bulletin to receive updates on the project.