This is a summary of the Town Centre masterplan strategy developed by Eco Sutton Group. These proposals arose out of the Group’s response to the Langley Sustainable Urban Extension (SUE) and the risk of a dislocated SUE. The aim is to revitalise and regenerate the Royal Town Centre (RTC) by integrating an imaginative new transport interchange “Loop” linked to the associated development of two sites for housing, and a separate Market and Community Hub as attractors.
In place of slow decline and store closures the regenerated RTC would feature new social and mixed-tenure housing to help enliven and transform the Town. . . perhaps intermixed with office and workspace units with the HS2 and Housing Infrastructure windfalls placed in a common pot to help pump prime the complex demolitions, infrastructure and development packages. There would be TWO RTC opportunity sites: Station Environs featuring new low-rise commuter mews-courts (approx. 150 dwellings 2-5 stories) adopting the character of the old town, and the Red Rose Centre / Markets Renewal featuring medium-rise apartments (approx. 200 apartments up to 8 stories) with associated landscaped spaces. The aim is for a whole-life housing demographic linking the RTC to Langley / wider Sutton: young people could occupy low-cost apartments, then move to family housing at Langley, finally moving to as retirees to compact Mews-Court houses conveniently situated next to the Station.
A new Hotel with adjacent Multi Storey Car Park (MSCP) on Brassington Ave and linked to the Gracechurch MSCP would compensate for the car parking lost to new housing whilst providing easier access to the high-level Station platforms via a new elevated walkway. The aim is to maximise the RT’s connectivity to the HS2, achieve a better local development-led dividend and realise the RTC’s potential as a vital destination.
In the Parade occupying the Red Rose Centre (RRC) frontage a new street-level Library with a RT Museum, Local History Archive, RTC Offices / Community Meeting Places & Facilities to would serve as a Community Hub. Close-by a distinctive new Market Hub food court drawing people into the revitalised RTC. The Market Hub would occupy a vacated deep plan retail store no longer commercially viable, and provide space for cultural and artistic activities: music, pop up stalls / cinemas, art exhibitions etc. A flexible approach to retail leases within the envelope of former deep-plan retail units would reflect the national changes impacting on large retail stores and emulate the sort of dynamic specialised retail seen in places like Boldmere. A further opportunity site would be the new Dog Pound Walk opening off the Parade and featuring places to eat and associate with friends. This new Public Space would have level access to the new Community Hub.
The Development vehicle would be a Community Development Trust (CDT) or Community Development Corporation (CDC) with discretionary compulsory purchase powers, this community body would own the evolving Masterplan obo the RT. In addition to developing the Interchange gateway the HS2 dividend would be used to pump-prime key early stage infrastructure provides thereby providing a more compelling Business Case by thoughtfully integrating public transport within an overall regeneration based Programme.
The RTC would own the project obo the RT Community, Birmingham City Council (BCC) principal statutory and property-owning partner together with the Business Improvement District (BID), M&G as Gracechurch Centre owner represented on CDT / CDC as deliverer / plus other owners, commercial, community, and environmental stakeholders, with WM Mayor as wider Regen Champion. The vision would be for a conjoined regeneration partnership having a positive impact on West WM Regen & Growth with Sutton attracting more people to live and work in the WM, also increasing footfall to the RTC and Sutton’s attractions: Sutton Park / Cinema / Birmingham Road pubs and eateries . . with more visitors coming into the Town to spend money and enjoy its attractions . .