REDDITCH Conservatives has reaffirmed its commitment to library services in Redditch following the award of over £16m by central government into the town as part of the Town Investment Plan, which will contribute to a range of upgrades for Redditch that Redditch Conservative Councillors and Rachel Maclean MP have been spearheading. These include:
- A new public square to provide an upgraded approach to the Kingfisher Centre and provide room for additional market-style features and new shops on the site of the central library once this is vacated and relocated within the town centre footprint.
- Installation of more EV charging points, including new E-Bike charging points.
- A digital manufacturing and innovation centre on the site of the police station once this is vacated and the police have moved to the new ‘blue light hub’ near Birmingham Road.
- Transport interchange and ‘Railway Quarter’ to enhance the arrival into Redditch and investment opportunities for new businesses to kickstart the area.
Redevelopment of Redditch Library Site
The town’s designation as a New Town in the 1960s and limited investment since has to led issues in the urban realm that need to be addressed. One key area of focus for investment in Redditch Town Centre is the Church Green area. Church Green forms a highly characterful and attractive centrepiece to the town centre yet access between the area and the Kingfisher Shopping Centre is poor, limiting the use of the visits by shoppers
Prior consultations have shown that investment is required in the Church Green area to improve the public realm and functionality of this area.
Key findings from public consultations include:
- “The Kingfisher Shopping Centre needs to be far better connected to Church Green area as this should be the heart of the town.”
- “Entrances to the area and shopping centre should be improved as most people enter through car parks which is worrying. The demolition of the library to create a plaza area which is aesthetically pleasing including a variety of usages is supported.”
- “There is a need for a cafe culture whilst making the most of our buildings heritage around Church Green.”
- “There is a lack of places to meet up in the centre in the evening, particularly family friendly spaces. No area for community events and activities”
Opportunity to Improve: Kingfisher Shopping Centre
This proposal has potential to transform the space around the Kingfisher Shopping Centre to help drive footfall and improve connectivity to the existing outdoor market and the wider Church Green area. The proposed new square would stimulate the conversion of the blank surrounding facades, including part of the Kingfisher Centre and the former Royal Hotel, currently operating as a nightclub.
Opportunity to Improve Leisure/Cultural activities and Safety
Delivery of a new leisure/commercial space proposed to book-end the new square will help to define the historic street frontage, which is important to preserve the character of the Church Green Conservation Area. This frontage will be further reinforced through a high-quality public realm that includes structures on the line of the historic building frontages, which can be used to help define the public square. This will particularly help the Redditch evening economy which will improve perceptions of safety after dark.
Our Commitment to Library Services
Council Leader Matt Dormer said:
“We are fully committed to keeping a state-of-the-art library in Redditch Town Centre. All we are proposing to do is move the library to a new space only a matter of yards away, either in the Kingfisher Centre itself in response to a downturn in the retail sector, or to the Town Hall.”
Further details of the relocation plan will follow in due course. Cllr Dormer added:
“I know that a library service in the centre of town is an essential offer, and they are so much more than just libraries these days. It’s about a community hub, a source of information for job seekers and budding entrepreneurs. The library in Redditch is the busiest in the county, and so along with all of my Conservative colleagues I remain committed to ensuring Redditch retains a superb state-of-the-art offer, which is what our town demands and deserves.”
Next Steps for the New Square and Library Site
The Towns Board will prepare a business case for submission back to Redditch Borough Council as the responsible body. This will be subjected to any scrutiny processes and considered by the Executive Committee and Full Council accordingly. Once the business case is approved additional work will be undertaken to ensure a smooth transition of the library to a new space. Redditch Conservatives believes this could be the Town Hall, but there may also be other opportunities within the vicinity to explore – a degree of commercialism is required to secure the best deal for Redditch and its library. In any event, the space that is identified will be converted to a suitable state-of-the-art facility.
Snap Approval Poll in February 2021
In February 2021 the local Redditch County Conservative Association commissioned and carried out a private approval poll to gauge overall support for the regeneration of Redditch town centre along with a specific question regarding the library. This poll was in addition to the public consultation work carried out as part of the Town Improvement Plan submission, and in addition to the in-person ‘state of the area’ sessions held at Redditch town hall in February 2019.
The approval poll was a self-selecting survey shared widely on social media. The local Conservative Association even paid to boost the survey on Facebook to attract more responses from the general public. The advertisement campaign can be independently validated in the Facebook Ad Library.
The approval poll discovered 78% overall support for the regeneration project in general, and between 66%-74.3% support for the proposals relating to the current library site. Details of the poll were shared in February 2021. Readers can see an automatically-generated report to validate the results by clicking here.