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Burntwood councillor insists joined up thinking was crucial to unlocking new £15million retail development

A Burntwood councillor says getting key parties around the table has helped a new retail development come to fruition.

Work is due to begin soon on the new £15million project at the former Olaf Johnson site on Cannock Road.

The land will be transformed into a 68,000 sq ft retail park with nine units, a drive-thru restaurant facility and 300 car parking spaces.

Cllr Eric Drinkwater

Cllr Eric Drinkwater

Burntwood Labour councillor Eric Drinkwater has paid tribute to the efforts of his colleague Sue Woodward in helping to ensure a joined up approach was put in place to aid the town’s future success.

“As has been reported recently, the Olaf Johnson site, which was granted planning permission a while ago, is about to start to become a new retail development,” he said. “At long last it appears that things have started to move, but it was due to an inspirational move by county councillor Sue Woodward in August 2016 that started things moving.

“Inspired by what was happening in other towns in Staffordshire, Sue argued for the introduction of a Town Deal which brought all the key players – land owners, Staffordshire County Council, Lichfield District Council and Burntwood Town Council – round the table to discuss the way forward for Burntwood through the Local Plan.

“It is in the hands of the landowner what type of retail is to appear on the site, but I do not think residents will be disappointed, although you cannot please everyone.”

Cllr Drinkwater said he welcomed a positive development for the area after a number of high profile recent campaigns to prevent controversial projects, including those earmarked for Green Belt land in Burntwood.

And he added that the work of all parties – including residents – was essential to find the best way forward for the town.

“As a member of Burntwood Town Council and Lichfield District Council I have over many years spent countless hours to achieve what was recently termed by our newly elected councillor Robert Birch ‘a better Burntwood’,” he said.

“As well as fighting for improvements in the retail areas and improved infrastructure, it has been necessary on occasions to protect the boundaries from incursion of extended open cast mining and moves to introduce massive wind turbines into the area.

“Fortunately, by engaging public support and action both of those developments were fought off.

“As elected members of the council, my colleagues and I have worked hard over the years to bring about improvements while protecting what we already have, such as areas of Green Belt, and it has been most gratifying to see the public coming on board through the Burntwood Action Group, whose involvement and support has been most welcome.”

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