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Sutton Coldfield

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Sutton Coldfield is a former town in the north of Birmingham, England. It has a history closely linked with the English Royal Family, mostly due to the influence of Bishop Vesey and his relationship with King Henry VIII. Through his actions, he sectioned off the area now known as Sutton Park, one of the largest urban parks in Europe, as well as repaving the town, construction new houses for the poor, enlarging the church, establishing a grammar school which continues today in his name and reinvigorating the economy of the town.

The modern day town is largely the result of the growth of a collection of villages and hamlets, all being brought under the Sutton Coldfield umbrella. In 1974, Sutton Coldfield itself was absorbed by Birmingham and became a part of the West Midlands metropolitan county.

During World War II, Sutton Coldfield was a separate entity to Birmingham, very much untouched by the industrial development of its larger neighbour. As a result of the lack of industry, it was largely untouched during the war and a subsequent housing crisis did not follow. Nevertheless, as the housing issues in the surroundings became acute, some social housing development did take place, with the largest being the construction of the Falcon Lodge estate in the east on former farmland. The estate was built in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and was a collection of terraced houses, maisonette blocks and three tower blocks - Willmott Court, Fairfax Court and Brook House. All the tower blocks have since been demolished.

In the nearby Reddicap area, a development known as The Mount was constructed and then opened by the Duchess of Kent in 1967. The development consisted of two tower blocks - Redway Court and Copsehill Court - and two maisonette blocks.

Sutton Coldfield's first tower block was built in 1964 in Boldmere; Park Court. Wylde Green received a new shopping precinct called The Lane Shopping Centre during the 1960s and as a part of this development, one separate tower block, Heron Court, was built to the rear. On top of the shopping centre, a smaller tower block was built. The larger tower block was refurbished in the early 2000s to improve the appearance. On the nearby Chester Road, at the junction with Court Lane, two 13 storey tower blocks with a total of 102 flats were approved in 1967 and built the following year. These have since been demolished.

South of Falcon Lodge, the Berryfields Estate was constructed. This estate was unusual in that it was constructed in the early 1980s, after the social housing boom. The estate is extensive and consists of numerous lowrise blocks of flats plus two tower blocks named Elizabeth Court and Margarets Court. The buildings are all built out of a distinctive red brick.

The majority of postwar social housing was constructed by a local contractor named Stubbings, some using the Fram construction method.

Elsewhere in the postwar era, Sutton Coldfield experienced significant reconstruction, especially in its main town centre where the construction of the Gracechurch Centre and Red Rose Centre saw the vast majority of the original town centre demolished. Small shopping areas were constructed elsewhere in the suburbs and numerous low rise blocks of flats have also been constructed, predominantly in the north of the town.

Throughout the postwar history of Sutton Coldfield, residents were worried and sought to fight against the growing dominance of neighbouring Birmingham. The construction of estates at Pype Hayes, Lyndhurst and Castle Vale with high population densities worried residents who thought being absorbed by Birmingham would destroy Sutton's heritage. Despite assurances that Birmingham was not seeking to absorb Sutton Coldfield, the government decided to merge the two. Sutton continues to hold an affluent and historic impression.

There are plans to construct 10,000 new mixed houses on the green belt to the east of Sutton, such is Birmingham's demand for new homes. Birmingham City Council have forecast that 100,000 new homes will have to be built in the next 25 years or face people finding it increasingly difficult to live here, hence strangling the local economy. The problem facing the council is that many of the brownfield sites in and around the city of Birmingham cannot be built on for numerous reasons. This has left them with only the greenbelt left on the edges of the city to choose from, which is green belt land precisely so no one can build on it. The majority of land left which is owned by Birmingham City Council is to the east and north of Sutton Coldfield and has raised more fears among locals that the number of 10,000 houses that is reported to be constructed in the future could increase dramatically.

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