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Tasty vision for town's future; COMMENT.

The news that Solihull town centre is in line for a PS44 million rejuvenation following IM Properties' purchase of Mell Square is another sign that the West Midlands economy is back on track following a tortuous period of recession, austerity and negligible growth. Green shoots has become a buzzphrase for any sign that the region is at last emerging from an economic black hole.

IM Properties' plans for Mell Square are more than mere green shoots. This is a property transaction which lays the groundwork for the biggest redevelopment of Solihull town centre for a generation.

Mell Square accounts for a major part of Solihull town centre, and the IM blueprint envisages a Brindleyplacestyle development embracing new zones targeting leisure, home, fashion and retail.

Whilst no-one could deny that the development of the Touchwood Shopping Centre has been a resounding success for Solihuill - notably attracting John Lewis to the borough - Mell Square has to a certain extent found itself out on the shelf in recent years, struggling to compete with its slick near neighbour.

But those days may be coming to an end. IM Properties, which has an impressive track record in developing tired old sites, is aiming to breathe new life into a hugely significant slice of Solihull town centre which has been barely redeveloped since the 1960s.

Interested parties in this project - and there will be many - might consider what IM Properties have achieved in other parts of the West Midlands as they digest news of this PS44 million deal.

One obvious example is the developer's transformation of the former Birch Coppice colliery site in North Warwickshire. Once a grim blot on the regional landscape following the pit's closure more than a quarter of a century ago, the area is now home to an array of organisations on a 400-acre business park, thanks to the vision of IM Properties.

Managing director Tim Wooldridge has already provided a tantalising glimpse of what the future might hold for Mell Square, citing restaurants such as Carluccio's and Jamie Oliver's as examples of businesses with their eye on Solihull.

With that calibre of potential investor waiting in the wings, the recipe for the future of Solihull town centre would appear to be a tasty prospect.
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Title Annotation:Editorial; Opinion, Leading articles
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jul 25, 2013
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