A proposal to reinvigorate Burntwood’s shopping heart has been welcomed by the town’s MP.
Michael Fabricant met with members of the action group in Burntwood and Hammerwich to discuss a range of issues, including controversial proposals to build on green belt land.
Also on the agenda was the need to breathe new life into Sankey’s Corner.
“I very much welcomed the meeting with the groups – it was very constructive,” he said. “I was very impressed with their holistic approach for the area taking into account housing needs, the need to preserve green belt, the use brownfield sites wherever possible, and the creation of a new shopping heart for Burntwood.
“Being a merged conurbation of four towns, it has resulted in the area lacking a commercial heart and town centre. Sankey’s Corner is the nearest thing to it, but it looks tired and run down.
“The district council have exciting plans for Burntwood, but it will still result in dispersed shopping areas.
“The action groups’ plans involve land swaps which could result in the redevelopment of Sankey’s Corner as a major new shopping heart combined with a new road which would enable the part of Cannock Road by the shopping area to be pedestrianised. In turn this would provide a link with the current commercial development planned immediately south of Cannock Road.
“Their plans also involve moving the health centre for housing redevelopment and moving it closer to Morrisons. Most of the additional housing required for Burntwood would be provided on existing and disused industrial land.”
The Conservative MP has admitted that the alternative plans for the town’s future might be difficult to achieve, but has said he will discuss ways to help make them a reality.
“I understand that the action group have had discussions with developers which make this all a possibility,” he said. “However, I am acutely aware that this will throw many balls in the air requiring the cooperation of diverse bodies including Lichfield District Council, Highways, the NHS, property developers and others.
“It will also require changes to the Local Plan though I believe that needs to be modified anyway to make it more watertight following recent decisions by Whitehall planners which have overturned the Plan.
“I know that Burntwood Town Council are broadly in favour of these proposals. I will be speaking with the district council to determine whether these changes can be considered seriously and perhaps adopted.
“Burntwood needs a proper town centre and a shopping focus. These plans could deliver it.”