Fort Shopping Park has a delicious new addition to its list of attractions – especially if you love vegan sausage rolls, ham sandwiches, donuts and hot drinks that are significantly cheaper than the big coffee houses.

Gregg’s Baker and Pastry Chef is the big new name at the out-of-town retail park that could potentially be increased by the Clean Air Zone fees (more details below and here).

This shift in the city’s transportation philosophy comes when roughly one in four The Fort’s retail space has been vacant for the last 15 months.

Once home to retail giants like BHS and Mothercare, even M&S has closed its Foodhall, despite moving to other out-of-town locations like Longbridge, Moseley, Selly Park and just this month its home and grocery store at Sears Retail Park in Shirley, Solihull , has expanded.

Star attraction: The new Greggs in Fort Shopping Park

On January 11th last year – two months before the first lockdown – Debenhams closed its doors in the fort for the last time.

Then, on May 15th of that year, Debenhams left the bullring as 243 years of high street history came to an end.

So, with all this turmoil, what is the outlook for The Fort now?

The free parking lot at The Fort is large enough to feel like you’re in the United States on a warm day

What is hot?

The good news for fans of The Fort is that it’s free for everyone (there’s no Clean Air Zone here) and many of the 2,000 free parking spaces are just yards from the front doors of your favorite brands.

It also has the best-designed toilets in town – and they’re exceptionally well-maintained.

Outside, on the rest of the property, the bins are emptied regularly and there is no rubbish spinning around like in the city.

A sign that says

A sign that reads “No biking, rollerblading, skateboarding or scootering” means you are likely much less likely to get knocked over on the fort’s sidewalks than in central Birmingham.

Signs say “No cycling, rollerblading, skateboarding or scootering” to protect pedestrians.

But take care of your car. Additional speed bumps have been installed (sometimes two together) and low suspensions will take a hit if you don’t obey the 5 mph signs.

Next not only has a Costa upstairs, but also an Amazon hub for collections.

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If you’re a bargain hunter, Clarks currently has a 50 percent sale on adult shoes from £ 35.

Extended trading hours allow convenient shopping in the evening when the traffic is much quieter.

The fort is open Monday to Wednesday from 9:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and Friday to Thursday until 9:00 p.m. Trading on Saturday is from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

About one in four of the non-food units at The Fort are currently on

About one in four of the non-food units at The Fort are currently “coming soon”

What’Not?

As in the month before the Covid strike in March 2020, around a quarter of the non-food units are still empty.

On the maps of the center there are notices “in brief” scattered on the walls.

But they don’t even reveal who or what they could be – and summer will be over in just three months.

In February last year, BirminghamLive repeatedly asked for information about the site’s future plans with a Birmingham public relations firm.

When asked the same question this week about what exciting developments are in the pipeline, we were simply told: “We don’t have any further details at the moment.”

Because of Covid, stores have restrictions on numbers during peak hours – 140 customers at Next, 87 at Boots, for example.

Greggs has opened in Fort Shopping Park near Wilko (left), with other redesigned units on the right

Greggs has opened in Fort Shopping Park near Wilko (left), with other redesigned units on the right

What’s new

Perhaps the good news for hungry shoppers on a budget is that a new name has popped up in the last month – and that is Gregg’s Baker and Pastry Chef.

Given that Greggs has a large distribution depot less than three miles away in the Mainstream Industrial Park, this unit has to serve food as fresh as anywhere in the group.

One of his workers said to me, “We’re open for a month and we’re doing really well.”

In addition to Greggs, there are several redeveloped vacant residential units with shiny billboards waiting for newcomers.

BirminghamLive was told last year that the area was going to be a “food center” but the Greggs worker had “no idea” who might be moving in next door.

More refurbished but still empty units around the corner from Greggs

More renovated, but still empty units around the corner from Greggs with the slogan “Think Fort first”

I asked the same question over at another local café and my server there didn’t know which companies could move in either.

But this worker added with a smile behind her mask: “I really hope it’s Subway.”

There, in a retail park that already houses Starbucks, Burger King, Costa (x2), Frankie & Benny’s, Harvester and Nando’s, Great Britain was on point – a request for another ubiquitous catering company.

In fact, Subway is already well positioned in the nearby Star City complex, where landmarks like McDonald’s are.

There is also another Golden Arches passage on the east side of the fort.

This location is across from Fort Dunlop … which also has its own costa on the ground floor, less than a ten minute walk from the fort!

Any suggestions on what else to see in Fort Shopping Park?

“It would be great if we could get B&M,” she said.

In fact, they are already part of the nearby Castle Vale retail park, which is about a mile away – as well as ten other locations in and around the city.

In addition to TK Maxx and Sainsbury’s, Castle Vale’s Currys PC World Store now includes Carphone Warehouse, ex of The Fort!

The Fort has more than 2,000 free parking spaces, including underground

The Fort has more than 2,000 free parking spaces, including underground

What is there?

The fort says it is “a major shopping destination in the West Midlands, Birmingham (sic).

“With 40+ top brands to choose from, we’re home to your favorite fashion, homeware and beauty stores with a wide variety of family-friendly restaurants on-site.

“We’re just off J6 on the M6 ​​- and there are more than 2,000 FREE parking spaces that make Fort Shopping Park the perfect place for your day.”

Bargain stores include The Works, Wilko (opened in 2016), and Poundland (opened in 2019).

Other names are Game, Beaverbrooks, Boots, Card Factory, Clarks, Clintons, EE, Elite, Flannels, FootAsylum, JD, Moss Bros, New Look, Next, O2, Primark, River Island, Schuh, Sports Direct, Superdrug, Tessuti, Perfumery, Tui, USC and Vision Express

CASE impact

Starting Monday June 14th, drivers entering Birmingham city center will be charged a £ 8 per day ‘non-compliant’ vehicle charge (£ 50 per day for each non-compliant vehicle weighing more than 3 , 5 tons).

Anyone living in the south of the city, for example, could still continue toll-free by finding an alternative route (e.g. A4040 via Yardley and Stechford or any other route that does not cross the middle ring road A4540).

You can drive down the A4540 in a non-compliant car and it won’t charge, but don’t drive over it.

And remember, the charging period runs from midnight to midnight and you decide whether or not your vehicle complies with the regulations – click on our vehicle checker report here to find out.

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