Plan to ‘reinvigorate’ Sutton Coldfield’s Gracechurch Center with new development revealed

New plans have been revealed to redevelop a part of a Birmingham shopping center that hasn’t had a retail tenant for years. The owners of the Gracechurch Center in Sutton Coldfield, M&G, are about to invite bids to redevelop part of the centre, which may be a catalyst for change in the city centre.

Earlier this year outgoing tenants Three revealed that owners M&G ‘want to rebuild’ the site, adding that this was the reason they left. At the time, all the ownership company was saying was that it was “looking at options.”

But now M&G Real Estate has confirmed it is looking at options for the former British Home Stores space and “other parts of the centre”. He also said he was looking to “repurpose” some of his space for “other uses.”

read more : New city manager plans to turn downtown into a ‘destination’ site

The new plans were first revealed at Royal Sutton Coldfield Town Council’s annual meeting of constituents on Tuesday (May 17). Council Leader Cllr Simon Ward (Four Oaks, Cons.) announced recent news that M&G is actively looking to develop the site. And the director of the council’s regeneration programme, Jan Rowley, went further and said that this was the former British Home Stores block at the top of the Parade.

Cllr Ward said: “M&G, the owners of Gracechurch Centre, will publish a design brief for the redevelopment of part of the centre.” He said this was an endorsement of the downtown regeneration association’s master plan.

Ms. Rowley said that what was being examined was the BHS end of the center. The department store, then owned by Arcadia Group, went into administration in April 2016, with all of its stores closing by August of that year.

Part of the former BHS department store in Sutton Coldfield is currently being used by Direct Art Action as an art gallery.

A year later, part of the facility opened as the Direct Art Action art gallery in October 2017. Initially, it was a one-year deal, but the gallery has held on ever since.

Now it looks like the BHS block could be the first part of downtown to be redeveloped. Alsio on the same block are Barclays and Natwest banks and The Gym but it’s unclear if their premises are also being scrutinized or will remain intact.

Jan Rowley, speaking on the regeneration of the town, stated that M&G were ‘spurred’ into action by the leader of the council, Cllr Ward, who met with them four or five months ago.

She said: “They own about half the land in the center of town. They are big landlords. The question was: are they going to stay? Well, they are. The design and development report that goes out to the investors and developers ask ‘What would we do with this part of downtown, which is BHS?

A spokeswoman for M& Real Estate said: “As investors with almost a decade of history in the city, we are committed to working with Royal Sutton Coldfield Council and other wider stakeholders to revitalize Gracechurch Center after a challenging few years for the city. retail trade, which has been felt in many towns nationwide.

“Contributing to the future prosperity of the city center is our shared goal and various discussions are taking place regarding the former Bhs space, as well as other parts of the center, including the possible reuse of some spaces for other uses. We are not in a position to provide details at this time, but we hope to be able to do so in due course.”

The back of the BHS block at the Gracechurch Center in Sutton Coldfield
The back of the BHS block at the Gracechurch Center in Sutton Coldfield

The news follows the appointment of a new manager by the Sutton Coldfield Business Improvement District, Michelle Baker. Ms Baker said she wanted to make Sutton a ‘destination’ and increase footfall with a series of new events in town. She then hoped that more visitors would drive business and that would attract more retailers.

The 41-year-old said: “I want to create a love strategy where you live so that people can be proud of their inner city again. The challenge is your perception. People who see it is not as bad as it seems. The IDB will work with the mall to see what can be done.” His full plans, including the creation of a Visit Royal Sutton Coldfield brand, are set out here.

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