Survey: shoppers like Brierley Hill but there’s work to be done

A survey of shoppers and residents in Brierley Hill has revealed that there is a great affection for the town, but people feel that there is still work to be done to make improvements.

Addressing a meeting of Brierley Hill Town Centre Partnership, on Tuesday 24th May, Shona Gilsenan, a volunteer with the Artspace and Brierley Hillness projects, explained that face to face interviews with shoppers in the High Street and other members of the community had taken place to help decision makers determine priorities and to guide new developments planned for the town.  She said:

“On the positive side there were some important key messages.
“People liked the old buildings in the town and wanted new developments to reflect the best of the architecture already present.
“Most people come to the town centre on business.  Interestingly many said that they never went to Merry Hill and preferred the local shops.  The markets are a particular strength.  One described Brierley Hill as a good typical Black Country town, whilst another said him came all the way from Halesowen as the best Black Puddings are sold on the High Street”.
But respondents also had suggestions for improvement.  The frontage of many shops was depressing, the removal of trees was much lamented and there was a need for more flowers to make the area brighter.  The lack of free car parking was also perceived as a problem as it limited shoppers’ time in the town.
In a separate survey of 74 primary school children 65% said that old buildings in the town should be preserved.
The Partnership agreed to ask for more details of the survey results and to request its High Street Working Party to look at ways of implementing suggested improvements.
For further information please contact Shona on

Fashionistas flock to Merry Hill’s celeb-inspired catwalk shows

Fashionistas flock to Merry Hill’s celeb-inspired catwalk shows

Hundreds of shoppers gathered to watch celebrity inspired models take to the catwalk in a feast of fashion shows at Merry Hill this past weekend.

The Faces of Fashion shows were part of a two-day style extravaganza held at the shopping mall on Saturday March 26 and Sunday March 27.

Models sported the latest spring and summer looks from the High Street during a series of short catwalk shows – geared at showing shoppers how to achieve the celebrity looks of Cheryl Cole, Rihanna, Dannii Minogue and Holly Willoughby.

The shows marked the end of the centre’s campaign to find fashion fans who go the extra mile to emulate their style icon – after a recent poll carried out at the mall revealed 32 per cent of women would like to look like popstar and X Factor judge Cheryl Cole and most men questioned said they take inspiration from Oscar-winning actor Colin Firth.

Kelly Reed, Merry Hill marketing manager, said: “The Faces of Fashion shows were a huge success. It was great to see so many shoppers turn out and enjoy the shows and pick up some styling tips.”

There were also discounts galore at a host of beauty and clothing retailers across the centre as part of the fashion weekend.

Source: Stourbridge News       Photo credits: Neighbours News

Topping out ceremony held at new town Campus

THE sun shone on Stourbridge College’s skyline-changing new art and design campus in Brierley Hill as dignitaries gathered for the official ‘topping out’ ceremony.

College principal Lynette Cutting put the last piece of concrete in place at the event on Friday (March 25) marking the completion of the structure of the £12m building in Venture Way.

Work is now due to start on the state-of-the-art interior – and the college is due to open its doors to students in September.

Lynette said: “It’s incredible, after all the challenges we have faced with finance that we have reached this stage and record numbers of applications for our art and design courses are testimony to the fact that creative industries is alive and well in the Dudley borough.

“It’s a fantastic building and its really stands out.”

Located on the old Brier School site, the campus has been four years making.

At one point the project had to be scaled back after vital funds fell through but college bosses quickly came up with a plan which would see the building designed and built for a third of the original £36m cost – and construction work finally got underway last August.

When it is complete, the eye-catching creative industries campus will replace the college’s outdated Longlands campus and will accommodate up to 1,000 art and design, textiles, fashion, graphics, illustration and digital media students.

It will be kitted out with recycled furniture and equipment and will feature an iconic glass frontage – through which passersby will be able to see student exhibitons.

John Mensforth, construction director at BAM Construction which is carrying out the work, said he had been “impressed with the ambition” shown by the college in bringing the project to fruition. He added: “We are pleased to have reached this important milestone. We now look forward to the project’s successful completion later this year.”

Tim Sunter, chairman of the Brierley Hill Town Centre Partnership, described the building as “just fantastic”. He added: “The speed at which its risen out of the ground is a credit to everyone involved.”

‘Topping out’ ceremonies, marking the completion of a building’s structure, are thought to date back to Saxon times.

A yew branch is often also sited on the highest point of the building to ward away evil spirits.


Express and Star: Tram-train line work could launch in 2014 « Express & Star

A £100million project to launch a tram-train line taking commuters across the Black Country will be in place by 2014 if plans unveiled in detail today are approved.

The move is expected to create hundreds of jobs.

Hybrid tram-trains, capable of travelling along both light and heavy rail tracks, would run along a defunct freight train route, taking passengers between Stourbridge and Walsall, with stops in Brierley Hill and Dudley town centre. Council chiefs estimate the plans would bring in a minimum £200m boost to the economy. Continue reading Express and Star: Tram-train line work could launch in 2014 « Express & Star

Planning inspector’s report on Brierley Hill published

The report of the planning inspector, Vincent Maher, has been published and is overwhelmingly supportive of the Brierley Hill Area Action Plan, but deletes references to ‘strategic wildlife corridors’ to replace them with ‘wildlife corridors’ in order to make the policy easier to understand and adds in a paragraph that developers must take account of the possible potential of coal extraction as part of their plans.

Key tasks prior to major development remain the introduction of a car park charging regime at Merry Hill and the introduction of improvements in public transport and surely the focus will now shift to moving ahead on these initiatives now.

You can read the inspectors report below. Continue reading Planning inspector’s report on Brierley Hill published

Mill Street ‘No Entry’ signs taken down

Following a review of the one way system along Mill Street from Venture Way to the town centre, the ‘no entry’ signs are being removed.  Motorists were confused that they were allowed into the first few metres of Mill Street from this junction, but then had to turn into the car park when the road turned to a bus lane.  They will now be able to drive through to the High Street.

Car Parking update: Bell Street and High Street

The February meeting of the Brierley Hill Town Centre Partnership received an update on parking issues in the town centre.

Concern had been expressed that parking on both sides of Bell Street South was making the road difficult to navigate.  Engineers from the council pointed out that parking limits had been planned for the street as part of the new Venture Way proposals.  However, local councillors had opposed the Bell Street proposal as they felt workers needed somewhere to park.  The restrictions were therefore not advanced.

Concern about parking of private hire cars at the upper end of the High Street (near Concord Market) had also been expressed, with a view that this was damaging the economic health of that part of the town as passing custom had no space to pull in.  It was confirmed that this area was not a taxi rank.  Private hire vehicles had to be treated in the same way as any other vehicle and subject to the same enforcement.

New traffic signals planned for Moor Street railway bridge

An increase in the weight limit of commercial vehicles has meant that older bridges throughout the country have had to be reassessed for safety.

Unfortunately edges of bridges are not as strong as middle, thus, “accidental wheel loading” – when vehicles go up on the pavement – is problematic. To prevent this, higher kerbs and shuttle signals have to be installed.

Moor Street railway bridge falls into this category and work will be carried out soon.