Park plans go to planners after community consultation

(10th April 2007)

Proposals for a £300,000 scheme to upgrade an area of green space in the heart of the Regenerating North Solihull area have been submitted to Solihull Council for planning approval.

Chapelhouse Recreation Ground in Chelmsley Wood is set to be transformed following a comprehensive consultation exercise, which saw the community invited to have their say on what improvements they wanted to see at the park.

As part of the consultation process, the residents from all 600 properties bordering the park were invited to comment on the proposed scheme. A special drop-in event was organised in February at the Grace Academy– which is next to the recreation ground – enabling the whole community to air its views.

The residents were asked to give their views on four main issues surrounding the scheme, which included the boundary treatment, the location of footpaths, the location of a proposed new ball court and the possible introduction of allotments. A planning application based on the outcomes of the consultation event was then prepared.

Sarah Barnes, regeneration programme manager at Solihull Council, who is based in the North Solihull Partnership office in Smith's Wood, said: "One of the main concerns of the local residents regarding this piece of open space is that it is often blighted by cars driving onto it. The consultation sessions revealed that residents thought that new fencing, as opposed to a ditch or bollards, would be the best way to make the park safe and secure from cars.

"The proposed routes of the pathways through the park and the amount of lighting have also been agreed in conjunction with the residents, as we have tried to reach a happy medium between ensuring safe new routes through the park, without impinging on the privacy of the residents living around its boundaries.

"In addition to proposing the provision of a new ball park, we have realigned the children's play area, and have agreed that there will be no lighting at either, so as not to encourage youngsters to congregate in these area after dark.

"The final consultation outcome was to decide what do with another piece of adjacent open space off Chapelhouse Road, which will now be turned into allotment space, with the front aspect landscaped to improve the overall visual impact of the area.                  

Chapelhouse Recreation Ground is one of the several key areas of green space that will undergo significant improvements as part of the Regenerating North Solihull project. This area will be the first to be upgraded, thanks to 50 per cent of the funding being provided from Bellway Homes who is constructing Chapel Walk - 85 houses and apartments sited on the former Whitesmore School- which is next to the Recreation Ground.

The Regenerating North Solihull project, which is being driven by the North Solihull Partnership, will see over 8,000 new homes built and a further 12,500 improved, as well as the construction of 10 new primary schools and five new village centres, as part of a £1.8billion investment in the area over the next 15 years.

The Partnership is made up of Solihull Council, registered social landlord Whitefriars Housing Group, regeneration specialists Inpartnership and house builder Bellway Homes.

Janet Bradbury, chief executive of the North Solihull Partnership said the submission of a planning application for Chapelhouse Recreation Ground was an important milestone in the Regenerating North Solihull project.

She said: "The guiding ethos of the Regenerating North Solihull scheme is that this is not about imposing changes on the community, but making improvements to the area with the input and support of local residents. The plans for Chapelhouse Recreation Ground are fully based on the views and wishes of local people, so the submission of a planning application means we are a crucial step further forward in fulfilling our promises to the community."

Subject to planning approval, the improvement works at the park should be completed by this autumn.


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