A multi-million pound building project to dramatically transform the centre of West Bromwich was starting today.
Contractors were moving into the Duchess and Princess Parade sections of High Street as part of the £8.2m Public Realm improvement scheme.
The project will transform the face of the town centre and will include a public square, sculptures and greenery as well as new paving, seating, bins, lighting and trees.
The project will also join up areas around the town centre including the new £200m Tesco development, Providence Place office block, Sandwell College and Dartmouth Park. The plans include improving the pedestrianised High Street at Duchess Parade and Princess Parade, concentrating on entrances at New Street and Bull Street and the crossing between Kings Square and Queens Square.
There will also be the creation of Metro Plaza, a public square linking West Bromwich Central tram station with Sandwell College and the town centre.
Other key priorities include linking Sandwell College to the town centre, linking Providence Place to the High Street and upgrading the Reform Street Bridge to the newly restored Dartmouth Park. Initial work, which starts from today, will include drainage and electrical channelling on either side of the market stalls.
This stage of the work is due to finish by the end of November.
As part of the overall scheme contractors have already demolished the landmark red steel overhead canopy on the High Street between King and Queen’s Square shopping centres.
The central kiosk and a planter have also been removed.
Part of the Farley Centre canopy is set to be taken down in November.
The “Cross in Hand” sculpture has also been removed and will be repositioned outside the Wesleyan Methodist church on High Street.
Work will pause over Christmas and start up again in January, with the whole scheme due to be completed in summer 2014.
Sandwell Council and its partners successfully bid for £4.1m from the European Regional Development Fund for the scheme.
It is the latest project to be taking place in the centre as part of the major regeneration of the town.
Work is steaming ahead on the £25m A41 underpass scheme while work is also ongoing on the major New Square development, which includes a Tesco store. Major retailers including Primark, Next, JD Sports, Bank and Arcadia have signed up as well as restaurants such as Harvester, Nandos and Prezzo.
The transformation of the town centre will cost £8.2m in total, with the European Regional Development Fund matching the council’s own £4.1m contribution.
Sandwell Council hopes the revamp will have a positive impact on the local economy, encourage inward investment and job creation and create a more attractive town centre for shoppers and businesses.