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THE CHANGING FACE OF STOURBRIDGE

Following much activity in Stourbidge Town Centre with the new Hotel and Brewers Fayre, extensions to King Edwards College, new Macdonald’s, KFC and the Crown Centre there is more potential development in Stourbridge. The former Savoy Cinema (previously Scala) together with substantial site in Crown Lane has come to the market with major potential for redevelopment for residential use, with the potential of retaining the 192’3 façade in Lower High Street but demolition of the unsightly old buildings and offices making way for an exciting development adjacent to the new Crown Centre with a major frontage to the ring road.

Following the launch of the property a few weeks ago a very encouraging level of interest from local and regional developers and investors who are witnessing the growing confidence in our town Centre.

As you go down the High Street you can also see increasing signs of confidence in the retail sector with a number of vacant shops now being let for all sorts of independent retailers and further food offers

Significant interest in the redevelopment of the former Labour Club and YWCA on Hagley Road into residential or care use.

There is a very active market for Care and Retirement properties with the increase in life expectancy and requirements for care, extra care and later life living. McCarthy & Stone are proceeding fast on the development of their second scheme in Hagley on the former Middle School site in Park Road with the marketing launch to take place in July.

Nationally the Government are reacting to the lack of house development with proposals of automatic planning permission to build on disused industrial sites in England.

Ministers would also get powers to seize disused land, while major housing projects could be fast-tracked. Local MP and Business Secretary Sajid Javid unveiled the plans as part of a broader push to boost Britain’s productivity. It came as official figures showed new house building fell by 5.8% in May, the sharpest decline in nearly four years.

There is a question mark over whether building more homes will boost productivity as much as ministers claim Treasury sources say workers are more productive when they live closer to their jobs.

Emran Mian, a director of the Social Market Foundation think tank, said: “I think if I was thinking about a productivity plan, housing wouldn’t be the first issue I would leap to.”

Mr Javid told the BBC the 141,000 new homes built last year were a fraction of those needed to meet demand and confirmed that local people will still have control over planning he said “The point of this is to make sure we build more homes, that local people are still rightly involved in those decisions and we find ways to speed it up.”

There was “no need” to build on green belt land, he insisted, to meet the government’s targets.

Under the new proposals – which will need to be approved by MPs – automatic planning permission would be granted on all “suitable” brownfield sites under a new “zonal” system.

 

With a potential change in planning policy and a more active market, some of the residential development schemes could by fast tracked and much needed housing particularly in the more affordable sector could be brought forward and sites which have remained unused and derelict for many years can be developed.

Traditionally as proven over the last 50 years or so with resurgence in the housing market and increased activity in the construction sector increasing the commercial property market will follow. We are seeing signs in our area although the major activity is concentrated at present on our big urban neighbour – Birmingham. We must ensure that we have our fair share of this activity and seek ways to improve and develop our communities.

So let us hope for a good positive summer as schools and colleges break for summer recess we can look forward to positive and successful period leading into the autumn.

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