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Major Kidderminster regeneration plans given go-ahead
CROWN House in Kidderminster will be demolished as part of a major town centre redevelopment given the go-ahead by councillors.
At a meeting on Tuesday, members of Wyre Forest District Council's planning committee overwhelmingly voted for delegated approval for the plans submitted by Hendersons UK, which will see an area within and next to Weavers Wharf developed, with new retail stores, cafes and restaurants built as well as a new bridge over the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal and River Stour.
A new public square will be created at the Bull Ring, to where the Baxter statue will also be returned.
Council leader, Conservative councillor Marcus Hart, described it as the "biggest, most major" application he had considered in 12 years on the committee.
Concerns were expressed, however, by business owners whose Lower Mill Street buildings will be demolished, meaning they will have to relocate. Businesses which will be affected include La Brasserie restaurant, Woolwise and a pharmacy, also house tenants living above the stores.
Pauline Mantle, speaking on behalf of business owners, urged the meeting to reconsider demolishing the premises. Andrea Arnall, an agent for the applicants, said the issue was not a planning consideration but Hendersons would speak with owners to assist them.
Labour councillor Howard Martin said: "This is a massive financial investment by the developer and something we should grasp with both hands - if we turn this down it may not come back again." He added: "I am sure there is a halfway house and something could be done to help the business owners."
The scheme was also praised by Liberal councillor Fran Oborski, who said: "I do have sympathy for some of the businesses but if you drive around Kidderminster, there are quite a lot of small units available and I do hope Hendersons acts in good faith and helps them.
"This is an exciting application and I cannot think of a single person in Kidderminster who is not going to rejoice when that blot on the landscape Crown House disappears."
Conservative councillor Stephen Clee, who was sitting on the committee in place of fellow Tory Ian Hardiman, added: "We do need a night time economy. The scheme looks great and I do like the idea of having a second bridge. I cannot find fault with anything in it."
Labour councillor Barry McFarland, however, said: "I am very concerned about the businesses on Lower Mill Street. I don't see why we cannot keep them and develop around it."
The plans will be approved by officers as long as planning conditions are met.
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