Consultation to develop key part of Smethwick is approved

A public consultation to develop a key part of Smethwick bordering Birmingham has been approved in a move to bring up to 4,000 houses and major regeneration to the region.

Rolfe Street Masterplan. Photo: Sandwell Council
Rolfe Street Masterplan. Photo: Sandwell Council

The consultation into the draft Rolfe Street masterplan will commence for six weeks between the end of January and March 2023. The plans include the demolition of buildings and a general overhaul of the area.

The masterplan builds on the vision of Rolfe Street to include a public square; new green spaces linking up existing canals in the area; and the street to be a primary connecting point between the train station and the new Midlands Metropolitan Hospital.

The area was awarded £2 million from the Towns Fund to help facilitate the development.

Councillor Peter Hughes, the cabinet member for regeneration and growth at Sandwell council, said: “The masterplan will aid in providing a vision of how these sites play a key part in regeneration.

“Cabinet is asked to approve these consultation on this document to seek the public’s response and input into these proposals from the end of February.”

Despite the area being allocated for residential use since 2008, no comprehensive redevelopment has taken place.

Rolfe Street is located at the western end of Smethwick towards Birmingham – once a cradle of the industrial revolution. The corridor is one of the most significant areas of brownfield urban renewal in Europe with the potential to deliver 4,000 new homes.

New neighbourhoods at Port Loop, on the borders of Edgbaston, Soho Loop, near Birmingham city hospital, and the Midland Metropolitan University Hospital nearing completion, are all signs of major development in the area.

The Rolfe Street masterplan will hone in on  Smethwick enterprise centre, central to the Rolfe Street area, which will act as a catalyst for further regeneration.

But traders at the business centre were previously reported to have complained about asbestos; rotting shop doors; and has been subject to rat infestations. Anti-social behaviour – including individuals shooting ducks at a canal, and acts of ‘dogging’ – have allegedly been witnessed by the traders.

Rolfe Street includes a large number of buildings and structures of significance, including the Grade II* listed engine arm aqueduct.

It comes as Sandwell council approved the Smethwick to Birmingham Corridor Framework in February last year – showcasing how to deliver the council’s vision of creating a place where people wish to live, work and visit, and which is well connected with sustainable transport choices.

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