News

Regenerating North Solihull held up as model scheme

(12th March 2007)

Regeneration experts from across the country have been in Birmingham to hear about the unique project that is transforming North Solihull.

More than 50 delegates from 36 councils and Government organisations attended the event at law firm Wragge & Co in Colmore Row last week, which was organised by Solihull Council and the North Solihull Partnership.

The Transforming North Solihull: A New Route to Regeneration seminar saw leading figures from the Partnership lay out their ambitious plans to transform the borough's three most deprived wards over the next 15 years.

The North Solihull Partnership, which is made up of Solihull Council, regeneration specialists Inpartnership, registered social landlord Whitefriars Housing Group and house builder Bellway Homes, is driving the £1.8 billion Regenerating North Solihull scheme that will see the construction of 8,000 new homes with 12,500 more significantly improved.

The project will also see new primary schools built in Chelmsley Wood, Smith's Wood and Kingshurst and Fordbridge as well as new village centres with retail, community and commercial elements and improvements to the transport infrastructure.

Cllr Ted Richards, Leader of Solihull Council, chaired the event and reminded delegates of the purpose of regeneration - improving lives and closing the gap of inequality. He said: "There are a number of significant regeneration schemes across the country that are either under way or planned for the near future but few can compare in scale or aspirations to the Regenerating North Solihull project.

"Living in North Solihull affects how well you do at school, whether you are employed or not and how healthy you are: this is just not fair or acceptable. Faced with inequality and poor opportunity, we did not accept the situation. We found partners who are like-minded and determined to transform people's lives for the better. With their support, we have become social entrepreneurs. 

"Sharing our experiences on a national stage brought home the scale of this project. It's a proud testimony to our achievement and the innovative approach we are taking to closing the gap of inequality and delivering a brighter future for North Solihull."

Significant construction work has already begun across the 1,000 acre area on the first of the new housing schemes, which is taking place alongside a massive ongoing consultation process with the residents of the three wards, so that they can help mould the direction of the project.

Duncan Sutherland, chief executive of Inpartnership, said the project was unique because it focused not just on the built environment, but also on the people living in the regeneration area.

He said: "One of the main differences between this scheme and many others is that we are working together with a longstanding community who will live and work in the area for the entire duration of the project.

"So this whole scheme is based very much with the community in mind.  We are unlocking new opportunities, as well as improving homes and amenities. Education is really the foundation of this project and one of the key planks to sustainable, holistic regeneration.

"As well as the raft of new primary schools planned, the area will also benefit from new secondary and special schools under the first phase of the Government's Building Schools for the Future programme, whilst a new local campus for Solihull College and two the first two state of the art special schools opened in North Solihull last year.

"We are working hand-in-hand with the local community and we believe a crucial part of Regenerating North Solihull's future success will only be witnessed if, as a result of the investment, local people believe in, and support, the scheme."

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Press release drafted by Alun Thorne. For more information contact Core Marketing on 0121 643 8151.