Brownhills shopping centre could be transformed under new plans

The transformation of a dilapidated shopping precinct in Brownhills is in the pipeline.

Brownhills shopping centre could be transformed under new plans

Ravenscourt has become a sorry sight in recent years with nothing but empty retail shutters to look at while the area has also become prone to anti-social behaviour.

But now London-based Lightquote Limited has submitted a planning application to revitalise the site, off the High Street which dates back to the 1960s and 70s.

The proposals would see the three main buildings, both those that flank the precinct and the one at the end, demolished.

In their place will be a new 6,500 sq ft unit which could feature two shops on the ground floor and a gym on the first.

The building could go far closer to the High Street than the current one, swallowing up most of the existing courtyard in order to make way for a 29 space car park at the back of it.

Earlier this year Walsall Council confirmed they were contemplating taking enforcement action against the land owners in a bid to kick-start redevelopment or at least prompting the site site to be tidied up.

Councillor Kenneth Ferguson, who represents the Brownhills area, said the plans were ‘great news’ for the area.

He said: “Providing that this is followed through and done correctly, this is great news for Brownhills.

“The shopping centre is in need of a new lease of life, it has become a spot for vandalism and anti-social behaviour and it can also be quite dangerous for those people who do go inside. I look forward to seeing what happens next and hopefully the council’s planning committee will look at this as a design that can really help improve Brownhills.”

It came after a multi-million pound proposal to build a supermarket at the site fell through in 2014.

The complex, off the main High Street, was poised to be taken over by neighbouring supermarket Tesco. But it later emerged that the overhaul of the shop, creating up to 150 jobs, had been abandoned. In 2014, more than 500 people signed a petition calling on the council to take charge of the site via compulsory purchase, with a view to re-developing it ‘in keeping with Brownhills High Street’.

But in an unusually frank planning statement submitted to the council Lightquote has defended the lack of investment until now and admits the latest scheme has been designed on a ‘budget’ because the developer had to ‘cut its cloth’.

The document states: “One must not forget that this precinct has not become rundown simply through neglect. Investment in such locations is only possible where reasonable returns on investment can be expected.

“The location is a challenging retail environment, if it were not, investment would have been made many years ago.”

Brownhills trader Bob Downes, who has a newsagents on High Street for more than 50 years, welcomed the move. He said: “Any change there has got to be good. Any development would stop all of the trouble with anti-social behaviour.”

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