Sandwell Liberal Democrats have submitted the following comments on the West Bromwich Masterplan. This masterplan will form the basis plans to regenerate West Bromwich town centre. They will decide what Sandwell Council does in the town and also how funding from the West Midlands Combined Authority, the Government Towns Fund, and the Future High Streets Fund will be used. The plans include some interesting ideas, and another attempt to add some culture to attract people into the town, but also includes what can only be described as planning jargon that says nothing. We will need to see more detail on those, and how some of the ideas will be implemented to see if they are likely to succeed.
Although the consultation on the plans has closed, you can view the plans here:
- We welcome the ambition to create an inclusive community and emphasis on creating more green space.
- There is a strong emphasis on cycle and pedestrian routes through the town, but the plan also needs to consider improved access for the less able-bodied. (For example, additional bus or tram stops near the new squares.) New Square has a mobility centre where people can borrow a mobility scooter to get around, so that could be expanded.
- There is no mention of charging points for electric cars or electric (zero-carbon) buses
- There is a need to actively encourage independent retailers, and businesses, not just rely on big chains with no connection to the area.
- What does the master plan mean by "indoor active sports"? Do the leisure facilities include plans for a swimming pool?
- Is the intent to include a theatre and performance event spaces, and a Culture Quarter, not an acknowledgment that The Public was to some extent a success. It attracted people to the town who would otherwise not have visited West Bromwich and it encouraged the investment in New Square, which is now the nicest part of the town centre. Whether The Public was cost effective is another matter, but it did lead to improvement in the area around it.
- There is also a need to consider surface materials, such as porous surfaces that will reduce risk of surface water causing flooding. The green space should also consider trees and hedges contribution to preventing flooding and to reducing carbon emissions.