MAIN STREET, Dickens Heath

Residents will be aware of the construction/development work being done to the former Parkridge offices (to the side of Mortons). Developers had sought planning permission to change the use of these empty offices into apartments. What became apparent, and out of the control of the council’s planning committee, was the rider that as many 27 car parking spaces would be allocated to the residents of the 20 new apartments. The main issue here is the car park is private and owned by the administrators acting on behalf of the liquidators following the collapse of Parkridge Homes. The planning application, by Elegant Homes, which went to the planning committee on 12 March 2014 can be viewed via this link: http://eservices.solihull.gov.uk/mgInternet/documents/s5280/201493%20-%20REPORT%20BY%20HEAD%20OF%20DEVELOPMENT%20MANAGEMENT.pdf .

This application was followed by a further one by Elegant Homes, where they proposed to create 11 new car parking spaces (effectively squeezing spaces from the existing areas of shrubbery). This proposals for this can be viewed via this link: http://ww2.solihull.gov.uk/planning_new/dc/ViewApp.asp .

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I have been in contact with several business owners on Main Street and had a meeting with Solihull Council officers before Christmas. The brief details of this meeting was that the car park became the property of Parkridge Homes when Dickens Heath was first developed and the council can not take any effective action to stop the change of use of the offices to apartments, nor the allocation of designated parking spaces to the new tenants of these apartments. The council highway/planning officers pointed out that over 60 spaces remained at the rear of these premises, and over 40 spaces were available on Mani Street itself. This is an important point and does show the numbers of available spaces which are in use. Support to business owners by the consortium managing Dickens Heath was brought up and efforts will be made sure businesses were getting support. However, the initial remedy for these businesses looks like civil action in relation to the terms of reference of the lease for their businesses.

I have had direct communication/conversation with Giovanni’s, ICE hair salon, Pure Retreat, First Impressions, Morton’s, John Shepherds and the Pharmacy. They have agreed to my suggestion to gather names for a petition to Solihull Council. The petition, which reads ‘ The facility for patrons to be able to park vehicles when visiting shops, restaurants, library, health services and other businesses in Dickens Heath is vital to the social and economic well being of the Village.

 We, the undersigned, petition Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council to work with the administrators of the former Parkridge Homes and business owners of Main Street, Dickens Heath to ensure car parking for all residents and business owners of Main Street is sustained to meet their needs’ .

 I aim to contact all businesses on Main Street. The rationale of the petition will mean the petition, when presented to the council, will ensure the issue is on the agenda of decision makers. Therefore, the issue will have more focus at a time when the development of the ‘Garden Squares’ will come to the fore. I and Cllr Richard Holt are hopeful of ensuring that when any proposals for the Garden Squares are published, we can accommodate more public car parking spaces very close to the Main Street businesses. This will obviously happen overnight.

I have agreed with the business owners the petition will be ‘low key’ so as not to highlight any major concerns that might prevent visitors deciding not to venture to the businesses because of the fear of lack of car parking. I hope for many users of businesses to put their names to the petition.

The short term can be assisted through the provision of these ‘new’ car parking spaces, as shown in the 2014/469 planning application. It is accepted that space needs to be taken up for construction but with as many as 24 spaces already taken up I would have liked the developers to create these ‘new ‘spaces straight away. I have written to them (Elegant Homes) urging them to do so as soon as possible. I have also asked that if any existing car parking spaces are taken up by construction workers can provision be made for these workers to park elsewhere and be brought in a way to release more space for visitors (for example: can more car sharing be undertaken?).

I have today (2 Feb 2015) received an email from Elegant Homes

I have reflected on your concerns regarding our impact on local parking provision and your suggested response. I can respond as follows;

  1. We have encouraged our subcontractors to car share and this has been an important part of their inductions. But perhaps it is not being implemented as I intended? I really don’t know. Beginning  next week we will amend our sign processes/documents to record how people are travelling to work and in particular how many cars are parked in the village. This will help us asses our impact on others.
  2. I have asked a team member to identify out of village parking that will allow our team to park and share lifts to the village. This will only work if the space can be identified which will be convenient. I attach a letter which I have sent to Solihull Moors which is self explanatory. I will seek other avenues also and will advertise our requirement for “out of village parking” on the hoarding.  
  3. We will be arranging branding of our hoarding over the next few weeks. If there are any local retailers who are feeling the pinch then I am prepared to share some of the advertising space on the hoarding with them. I am also prepared to pay for the production costs of the advertising provided they provide the content. The amount given to a particular retailer/restaurateur  needs to be meaningful so that 2-3 business would be best provide some or other think this would help?  
  4. I have contacted the Receivers managing agents and asked for their permission to get on with the formation of the additional car parks spaces. As these spaces were their suggestion in the first place I am expecting them to be co-operative and if that is so then we will begin as early as possible next week. I will contact you again with a firm date in the next 7 days.

I do know contact has been made with a local sports club for permission to park constructors person vehicles on payment of a sum of money. I do feel the developers are acting in good faith and I welcome the response.

My anger was initially with Elegant Homes but it is only right to point out that decisions made many years ago, when the Village was in the design stage, to allow a company (Parkridge) to own the facilities for their management, has led to the present situation. Their going into receivership has led to the liquidators acknowledging the value of the land.

I would be grateful for any views regarding this issue – which is one we do not come across regularly. I will of course update residents when I receive more information. In the meantime, copies of the petition can be found at most businesses on Main Street, please feel free to sign one. But please make sure it is only one!


3 thoughts on “MAIN STREET, Dickens Heath

  1. Although I do not live I Dickens Heath (although I live just outside the ‘Village’) I do drive though on a daily basis and regularly use the shops (Tesco, Dentist, and Hairdresser). However, the parking around the shops ( and in general ) is getting increasing worse and sometimes on visiting Tesco’s there is not a car parking space to be seen which has resulted in my having to drive to another shop.
    I have been told that as a non-resident why do I go into Dickens Heath? This is for residents! Well it’s convenient, apart from the parking and let’s be honest most of the shops will not continue to be viable if only frequented by local residents ( Tesco maybe the exemption) and the High Street will end up with empty / boarded up shops.
    Perhaps the two car parks behind the shops could be a pay and display (with the first 3 hours free as they do in Shirley, and remember these use to be free until recently). I know residents who use these as their car parking, would be upset but you need to allow visitors to the High Street to keep it alive or else you will just have empty shops and charity shops which would not be good for the area.
    At the end of the day the lack of parking was down to poor planning by Solihull Council or pure greed just wanting more houses on the land.
    This does need to be addressed.

    1. Many thanks for the comment Gaynor. Some pay and display options, but just for a section on Main Street, are being explored. I am hopeful that when developers clean up the area behind Tesco’s a further 20-30 spaces can be made available.

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