Housing development on old school site gets the go-ahead

Councillors have given the go-ahead for a £3.5million housing development on the site of a redundant school in North Solihull. Work will begin imminently on the site of the old Merstone School, which is being redeveloped as part of the massive £1.8billion Regenerating North Solihull programme that will eventually see more than 8,000 new homes built in the area.

The recently opened state-of-the-art replacement Merstone School facility, catering for children with severe and complex learning difficulties, has been built in Smith's Wood. This means the site of the former school, located off Exeter Drive, in Chelmsley Wood can be put to a different use.

Plans for the new housing site, which will be marketed at as Merstone Grange, include 20 three and four bedroomed houses plus two one bedroomed apartments. Bellway Homes, one of the four partners involved in Regenerating North Solihull will build the new homes. The other organisations in the North Solihull Partnership development consortium include Solihull Council, investment led regeneration company Inpartnership and Registered Social Landlord Whitefriars Housing Group.

Janet Bradbury, chief executive of the North Solihull Partnership, said that the green light for another new development in the regeneration area emphasised the excellent progress being made for the 15 year project.

She said: "Regenerating North Solihull is a project that will completely transform the area over the next 15 years but not without some disruption for residents along the way. Because of this, we are doing everything possible to consult with residents at every stage and involve them in all aspects of the project, and the plans at Merstone Grange reflect that.

"For instance the key element of the name of the old school has been kept at the request of local residents. We are also building all of the Merstone Grange homes as two storey designs, again because that is what local people wanted.

"Work is now progressing well at various sites across North Solihull and it's important this momentum continues to grow so that everyone can see that physical change has begun in earnest to transform the area."

Merstone Grange is just one of several developments set to get under way over the next six months in the 1,000 acre North Solihull regeneration area. These are expected to include a social housing development at Moorend Avenue in Chelmsley Wood, 104 flats and houses at Dee Walk and Tamar Drive in Smith's Wood, 75 flats and houses at Keeper's Lodge in Craig Croft and 70 new homes in Arran Way

Work is also well underway for the new Kingshurst Primary School, the first of a series of new schools for the area, which will be built on the site of the current merging Kingshurst Infant and Junior schools.

 The £1.8bn Regenerating North Solihull programme also includes five village centres, the first two of which - Craig Croft and North Arran Way - are shortly due to go in for planning. New bus routes and road improvements are also planned for the 15-year project, along with the creation of safe, open public spaces. And, underpinning the entire regeneration programme is the desire to create better access to jobs, training and economic prosperity for every sector of the community.

 The three wards of Chelmsley Wood, Smith's Wood, Kingshurst & Fordbridge make up the 1,000 acre regeneration zone.