The Council is commissioning a study to make recommendations to ensure that the investment going into the retail and hospital developments, as well as the Selly Oak relief road, generates spin off benefits for the smaller shopping areas in Bournbrook and opposite the existing Sainsbury's. I am pleased this work is being done but have expressed concerns about the lack of in-house capacity within the Council for such work and the use of consultants who are often not familiar with the area and who have no ultimate responsibility for implementation.

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THE FUTURE OF RETAILING AND OTHER ACTIVITIES IN SELLY OAK CENTRE

Introduction

Over the next few years, a number of major developments are set to transform the Selly Oak area.  The most significant are:

        Construction of the new UniversityHospital

        Redevelopment of the existing SellyOakHospitalsite

        Reclamation and development of the Battery site for retail and business use

        Construction of a new Relief Road

The potential impact of these and other developments on the local centre in Selly Oak raises a number of issues that need to be addressed through consultation with local people, businesses and groups.  After many years of uncertainty, development and investment is now much closer to commencing.  Whilst there will be challenges, there are also opportunities to bring about improvements in the heart of Selly Oak itself.

Background

Much has been said and written about Selly Oak and its centre.  In particular, there is a formal Selly Oak Local Action Plan that was adopted in July 2001 and has become Supplementary Planning Guidance to the Birmingham Plan.  This focuses on land use, transport, design and planning aspects and sets out broad proposals. There is also a Ward Development Plan produced in July 2003 by the Selly Oak Ward Advisory Board.  More recently, consultants retained by the City Council, have produced a report on local centres across Birmingham including a closer look at Selly Oak. This also makes some proposals for improving the centre.

These documents identify the problems and opportunities facing Selly Oak and provide an important context for the future.  The Ward Advisory Board has established a Working Group to consider these documents and the issues they raise and identify more detailed, specific actions that could be taken to capitalise on the changes that will be happening over the next few years.

Selly Oak Ward Committee has recently considered an initial report from a Ward Advisory Board Working Group, which identified the need to develop a plan of action for the Selly Oak Local Centre.  The plan of action will reflect the need for the Centre to strengthen its role for retail, business services and local community facilities.

Terms of Reference

In order to progress with this important agenda, it is now considered necessary to appoint a team of consultants to work specifically at the local level and draw up a vision for the centre and a detailed strategy and action plan.  The consultant(s) will be required to:

  • Consider the existing and future role of the Centre
  • Develop a realistic shared vision to guide the future development of the Centre in partnership with the community, retailers/businesses and other stakeholders.
  • Provide up to date information about retailing and other non-residential activity in Selly Oak Centre at the present time and a health check of the centre.
  • Provide information on the known plans of retailers and other businesses for the next 10 years.
  • Report on the problems and aspirations that retailers, owners of pubs, restaurants, etc, and public service providers identify.
  • Identify opportunities to attract new investment and identify any constraints on achieving these.
  • Look at the impact of developments in the pipeline including:

a) Developments in Selly Oak, eg Sainsbury’s Triangle site, Sainsbury’s development on the Birmingham Battery site

b) New developments in the wider area, eg QE Hospital, Griffin Close, SO Hospital

  • Review good practice and research in similar locations elsewhere in the country
  • Recommend a strategy with specific proposals and policy initiatives consistent with the established planning policy framework.
  • Identify deliverable and achievable methods of implementing proposals and sources of funding and develop projects plans to bring about new investment and activity.

We will expect a multi-disciplinary team that includes experience /expertise in local and national retail and commercial property markets, surveys, visioning and land use planning.  The team will be expected to have a lead consultant who will co-ordinate this work. The 3 parts of the study will require the consultant(s) to undertake:

a)      A survey to identify existing land uses, problems and aspirations of retailers and other stakeholders operating within Selly Oak Centre and a health check;

b)      Assessment of  market potential for the Centre currently and in 5 –10 years’ time when new developments will be in place

c)   Development of a vision for the centre, and strategy and action plan.

Specifically, the consultant(s) will undertake:

PART A: SURVEY and HEALTH CHECK

a)      Define the area of the Local Centre for the purpose of the study.

b)      Prepare a census of shops and other non-residential activity in the 3 separate areas that define Selly Oak (using Goad etc.) to obtain name, address (and where possible email) of property owner, name address of tenant; approximate size of unit, activity undertaken, and rent levels/property prices (where possible).  Contact main estate and letting agents to find out whether rent levels and property prices are artificially high or low within the Centre.

c)      Prepare a questionnaire and conduct interviews with a representative sample of the occupiers, ie different trades and non-residential users within the Centre in order to identify their problems/aspirations and ways in which public policy/actions may assist them.

d)      Prepare a health check of the centre using PPG 6/PPS1 criteria e.g. diversity of uses, shopping rents, pedestrian flows.

e)      Interview a sample of public and private sector property owners in the Centre in order to identify their problems/aspirations and ways in which public policy/actions may assist them.

f)        Contact other key users of the Centre, eg: Guild of Students; University of Birmingham; Bournbrook Medical Practice; NACRO; Adult Education Centre; Job Centre Plus; Probation Service; Careers; BCC Local Services to identify their problems and aspirations and ways in which policy actions may assist.

g)      Explore with Sainsbury’s and Hammersons, Birmingham University, University Hospital Trust, ways in which they could engage in wider Local Centre activities, such as future town centre management arrangements.

PART B: MARKET POTENTIAL

a)      Obtain the views of Sainsbury’s and Hammersons and local and national agents and operators about the market potential of Selly Oak Centre, including potential for multiples to locate there.

b)      Assess the impact of new developments on the centre. This will involve obtaining the views of potential retail operators and existing operators about the impact of Selly Oak New Road, environmental enhancements and the proposed Sainsbury’s and hospital developments and other developments in the wider area, including the impact of the new jobs created. (N.B. Retail impact assessments are available for proposed new Sainsbury’s development).

c)      Suggest ways in which these developments can be capitalised on to maximise future role of Selly Oak Centre.

d)      Assess potential for new retail, service, office and other uses including potential for multiple and comparison goods.

e)      Find out from potential retail operators what would be their space and other requirements if they were to move into units within Selly Oak Centre.

f)        Assess the potential for niche markets within Selly Oak Centre.

g)      In addressing the above particular focus will need to be placed on the existing shopping areas a) between the railway and Alton Road/Tesco Express, and b) around Oak Tree Lane junction.

PART C: VISION/STRATEGY/ ACTION PLAN

a)      Work with the project steering group (and any other stakeholders necessary) to develop a shared vision in the light of information gathered in A and B above.

b)       Set out a strategy that builds on the Local Action plan, Ward Development Plan and recent consultants report and addresses issues such as land uses/mix of uses, transport, management of the centre, investment. The strategy should identify barriers and opportunities, refer to examples of good practice elsewhere, set out short, medium and long term proposals and where appropriate set out options. The strategy should include the following:

        Identify possible sites for development within Selly Oak Centre (refer to previous studies).

        Assess the likely impact of the developments that are in the pipeline, eg more people in the area as a result of the new jobs created, impact of the new road and environmental enhancements.

        Consider whether existing commercial property in Selly Oak is suited to future market requirements and advise on what steps could be taken to address any inadequacies.

        Assess the role of A3 uses within Selly Oak Centre and future policy approaches to A3 uses.

        Assess how the need for community/social facilities, eg Library, local services office, Police base, etc could be addressed.

        Report on the needs for and management of short stay car parking in the area and how existing sites could be most effectively utilised.

        Report on the feasibility of establishing a permanent organisation of local traders/businesses and a form of local town centre management.  Discuss with Business Link what activity already exists in the area and what could be offered to support existing and new businesses within Selly Oak Centre.

c)      Prepare a realistic action plan (with options where appropriate) that addresses the following;

        Deliverable and achievable methods of implementing proposals

        Sources of funding  e.g. PFI

        Project plans to bring about new investment and activity.

OUTPUTS

a)      Prepare a coherent report that outlines a vision for Selly Oak Centre, a strategy and action plan that is supported by recommendations that provide viable proposals and options that are deliverable within realistic timescales and budgets that are likely to be available. The report should be supported by appendices with survey results, background information etc.

MANAGEMENT AND REPORTING ARRANGEMENTS

a)      The consultants will report to a Project Steering Group (PSG) – comprising city council officers, representative(s) from the WABWG. The PSG will meet regularly throughout the process.

b)      The consultants will report at key stages to the Ward Advisory Board Working Group (WABWG).

c)      The consultants may also be asked to report their final report to the Ward Committee.

TIMESCALES AND MILESTONES

a)      The study is expected to take around four months. The consultants will need to agree a programme with the PSG to involve the following key stages and allow for involvement of the WABWG:

        Confirm brief, timescales and milestones

        Background research

        Surveys, market analysis

        Visioning

        Prepare draft strategy and action plan for discussion

        Prepare and present final strategy and action plan.

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