Merry Hill, Brierley Hill •Built between 1984-1989•Continuously redeveloping to keep up with town- centre developments •Two levels of mall shops, 185 shops 100,000m2 •Shops - department store, large variety stores, 2 supermarkets and 24 catering outlets •A retail warehouse park •10-screen multiplex cinema •10,000 parking spaces •Probably 3rd largest facility of its type in the UK•Also provides - banks and building societies, postoffice, tourist info centre, community facilities e.g. Citizens Advice Bureau and senior citizens’ clubs •The Waterfront is next to Merry Hill which provides offices for companies such as VirginMedia, and has a marina with bars and restaurants
Connections • Bus station since 1986 – direct connections to towns e.g. Dudley, Stourbridge and West Bromwich as well as cities Birmingham and Wolverhampton • Service also connects to the railway station • Was an elevated monorail from 1991 at Merry Hill but was closed in 1996 from a result of technical problems and safety concerns
Construction• In 1980s Enterprise Zones were government created and incentives were given for firms that wanted to set up in areas which had been affected by the downturn in manufacturing.• Incentives included relaxed planning rules and a 10 year period exempt from business rates.• Brierley Hill lost the Round Oak Steelworks• Developers took advantage and made a shopping centre rather than industrial units.• Used former steelworks site and large green space – Merry Hill Farm• Merry Hill Farm was formerly well used by local people for recreation and was a haven for wildlife• There was resentment when the first phase of building began on the green space, including protests from local citizens.• Planning consent was granted even before the closure of Round Oak Steelworks in 1982 – the land of the farm was to be used for the tipping of steelworks waste.• The perimeter was landscaped with embankments and tree planting to mask the tipping from nearby houses.• The development not only destroyed the farm but also removed the new landscaping and threatened the stability of the canal embankment on the hillside.• This resulted in the closure of the Dudley Canal to traffic for a number of years.
Effect on surrounding town• The movement of large retail chains into Merry Hill centre left a number of large empty premises behind which meant shoppers abandoned town centres.• This led to a large downturn in trade for remaining shops, affecting their liability. • Dudley was most affected – Halesowen and Stourbridge were also hit. • Furthermore Dudley Council announced it was bringing in parking charges which turned more shoppers away from local towns and towards Merry Hill where parking is free. •1 in 3 shops in Dudley are either vacant• Parking charges were supposed to be introduced in or lower grade than it was before. 2008, in response to local council requirements •Non-food market in Dudley High Street that a shopping centre of its size should implement fell by 70% charges similar to those in town centres. •Town centre rents fell by 24% as names such as M&S, BHS and Boots evacuated • Other nearby towns have responded to Merry Hill the town centre. by redeveloping their own town centres e.g. •In their place came discount stores and Touchwood. charity shops.
Planned developments• Had to respond from complaints of out of town retailers and to the competition from town centre redevelopments such as Birmingham.• Stated that their aim is to connect and integrate Merry Hill with the traditional town- centre of Brierley Hill.• Dudley Canal has been rerouted and new flats and houses have been built around the site with more expected.• New Midland Metro tram system will open in 2011 – terminates a short distance south of the centre in Brierley Hill and gives direct rail links to Dudley, Tipton and Wednesbury.
• Replacement cinema (16-20 screens) will be built on vacant land behind current cinemas in 2010. Also other leisure facilities such as a bowling alley, comedy club, outdoor performing area, restaurants, bars and a casino are planned.• This ‘leisure plateau’ will begin the integration with Brierley Hill with a direct walkway between the two.• Entertainment area will be a newly created public square.• Expansion along the canal is expected to turn it into an entertainment district that could rival city locations.• The redevelopment of the centre is intended to achieve high levels of ‘green’ efficiency with Merry Hill to be the first retail development in the country to be awarded BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method).• Many local factories and establishments are planning on closing down or relocating to make way for more modern apartments, multi-storey car parks and businesses.