Plans finally approved for Dickens Heath youth venue
Dickens Heath is finally set to get a purpose-built youth facility after more than a decade of discussions.
Plans to create a venue were previously hampered by difficulties identifying a suitable site.
But this week a £300,000 scheme to build premises on the grounds of the Community Primary School took a major step forward.
Approving the plans, Cllr Joe Tildesley, cabinet member for leisure, tourism and sport, said it was “great news” for the village.
The project will be funded by developers’ Section 106 contributions, which the council has amassed since 2004.
One advantage of the lengthy delay is that a large enough sum had become available to afford a building; a more ambitious proposal than the outdoor games area or skate park that had originally been suggested.
It is hoped the facility will also offer opportunities for the wider community.
Chris Barr, the council’s head of public realm, said: “While it has been a long journey, as officers we feel we’re in quite a privileged position to provide something a little bit bigger and better.”
Cllr Cheryl Buxton-Sait (Green, Castle Bromwich) had asked for assurances that the scheme would have a secure future given the lack of money available for youth services.
As everybody knows we’re trying to do more with less. Less money from central government. Youth service provision has had massive cuts.
“So we’ve got this great facility, what are your thoughts about keeping it sustainable? It would be a shame after two years if there’s no money left to keep it going.”
She believed that if the project did prove to be sustainable, there was scope for schemes of a similar kind elsewhere in Solihull.
Mr Barr said that more details on the long-term plan would be brought to a decision session in the New Year, but it was intended to work closely with the school and local groups including the Scouts and Dickens Heath Youth Club.
The use of the Primary School site was first suggested in 2014, after a number of other options were ruled out.
An alternative site at Dickens Heath Sports Club was also considered but discounted, amid concerns the venue was on the outskirts of the village and young people would have to access it via a semi-rural road.
Detailed work continues on the design of the single-storey premises, which will have to be approved by the council’s planning committee.
Officers had advised that a modular building was favoured over bricks and mortar, because it could be assembled far more quickly and “massively reduces disruption” to both the school and the local community.
Read more: https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/local-news/ten-years-wait-youth-venue-15441470