Category Archives: News
Consultation: Responding to Mayor’s concerns about A34 Perry Barr Highway Improvement Scheme
The consultation into the A34 Perry Barr Highway Improvement Scheme is ongoing and I would urge as many people as possible to have their say https://www.birminghambeheard.org.uk/economy/a34perrybarr/
Below is a letter to West Midlands Mayor Andy Street in response to concerns he raised about the proposals.
I was grateful to receive letters of support from both WMCA and TfWM for the regeneration of Perry Barr so I was surprised to hear that you have adopted such a negative view of a key element of these proposals. In light of your published views, I would be happy to arrange a further briefing to allow officers to explain the reasoning that underpins the Highway Scheme.
Highway Scheme Objectives
The development of the Athletes Village and its housing legacy of 1,400 homes requires that the southernmost section of Aldridge Road is closed to general traffic to create a cohesive community within the Village development.
The need for this development means that we do not have an option to leave the highway layout in its current state.
In addition to delivering the Athletes Village, the highway element aims to provide an improved public realm and improved facilities for sustainable transport by including:
- segregated facilities for cyclists;
- dedicated bus lanes;
- bus priority at traffic signals;
- improved connectivity for pedestrians and less able users, as well as
- improved facilities for Sprint.
All these improvements will help to drive the shift in travel behaviour that we both need to see to support continued economic growth in the region.
Why we are Demolishing the Flyover
Contrary to popular opinion, we have not set out to demolish the flyover as a scheme in its own right. The flyover demolition forms an essential part of a scheme that aims to regenerate Perry Barr and provide improvements to public transport and active travel.
After comparing all the options, the preferred scheme was selected as providing the most efficient solution to deliver on the scheme objectives.
The reason that this is the best available option is because demolishing the flyover creates enough space to provide an efficient highway layout that incorporates the multitude of traffic movements that occur between the A34, A453, A4040 and One Stop Shopping Centre. All the alternatives that retained the flyover would be compromised by the need to thread the link roads and junctions around the flyover ramps and support piers. These compromises led to a junction layout that performed poorly in the evening peak hour.
The Implications of Retaining the Flyover
If we are to fully regenerate Perry Barr there is no ‘Do-Nothing’ option, so retaining the flyover would have two implications: We would either:
- construct a poorly performing highway layout beneath the flyover that would lead to additional delays in the evening peak of over 9 minutes; or
- we would do nothing and lose 350 homes on the Gailey Park site and all the benefits that the highways proposals currently delivers.
It should be noted that if we do nothing, we also lose the bus priority measures, Sprint improvements and the public realm improvements made by signalising Birchfield Island.
If the junction at Gailey Park were to remain unchanged, we would not be able to implement the improvements to the public realm at Birchfield Island. This is because Birchfield Island currently acts as part of the Gailey Park junction as it provides the U-turn manoeuvre that allows traffic from the North (A34 and A453) to access the One Stop Shopping Centre. This U turn manoeuvre would not be possible at the signalised junction.
Traffic Disruption during Construction An element of traffic disruption will be caused by any proposals to change the highway layout in Perry Barr. Disruption should therefore not be solely linked with the flyover demolition. We will work with our contractor to ensure that as many lanes as possible can be kept open through the works. We will also mitigate disruption by encouraging changes in driver behaviour in line with our Travel Demand Management Plan, which we are preparing jointly with TfWM. Such plans have been very successful with recent city centre schemes where ‘traffic chaos’ was previously predicted. Examples include the recent works at Paradise Circus and the closure of the Fiveways Underpass.
Long Term Congestion Improvement
It is clear from the scheme objectives that this scheme does not set out to deliver improvements in journey times for cars. We both know that to grow the economy in the West Midlands, we need to shift the transport focus away from individual vehicles towards moving people. Improvements in mass transit systems and active travel will underpin the future economic growth as our urban road networks become increasingly saturated. The proposals at Perry Barr embrace this philosophy and provide improvements that encourage the use of public transport and active travel. Recent traffic modelling shows that the average journey time increase in 2026 would be less than a minute.
Delivering the Games on Time
If we fail to deliver these proposals, we will also fail in our pledge to deliver a public transport games. The existing highway layout does not include any bus Lanes, or bus priority measures. The nature of the junction makes it an unwelcoming environment for cyclists and pedestrians. Sprint buses would either have to use the flyover and miss Perry Barr entirely, or navigate the Aldridge Road loop and the tight geometry of the Birchfield Roundabout.
The proposed scheme provides many benefits for Sprint operations. These include bus priority measures at both the signalised junctions; bus lanes in both directions and a ‘straight through’ route for sprint that would not need to navigate the Aldridge Road loop. The unmodified Birchfield Roundabout would present a challenge for sprint buses as it would not be possible to provide any elements of bus priority at a roundabout, and the circulatory carriageway is not very wide, leading to potentially hazardous manoeuvres for a sprint type articulated vehicle.
Whilst it is possible to change the appearance of the flyover, that would not address the objectives of the scheme, and would fail to deliver the wider regeneration that we both seek. It would also not be possible to deliver the capping of the underpass, as One Stop customers rely on the U-turn manoeuvre at the roundabout, to access the centre from the north. The highway element is therefore a key feature that unlocks the regeneration of Perry Barr and I urge you to reconsider your opinion and support our proposals.
Councillor Ian Ward Leader of Birmingham City Council
Birmingham and Sandwell councils back Unite’s construction charter
In a major boost for construction developments in the West Midlands, Sandwell Council and Birmingham City Council will officially sign a Unite charter (Tuesday 9 April 2019) protecting construction workers.
The Charter ensures that working conditions for workers on construction projects under the councils’ control meet the highest standards.
Construction firms planning to work on council building projects will now need to adhere to the new Construction Charter. The charter commits to working with Unite in order to achieve the highest standards in respect of direct employment status, health & safety, standards of work, apprenticeship training and the implementation of appropriate nationally agreed terms and conditions of employment.
Annmarie Kilcline, Unite regional secretary for the West Midlands said: “Today marks a major boost for construction projects in the West Midlands. Birmingham and Sandwell councils are doing the right thing by signing up to Unite’s construction charter.
“The right to speak out on issues and be paid a fair rate for the job is vital. The Charter means there will be no blacklisting of workers. It also protects workers from bogus self-employment by ensuring construction workers are directly employed. The charter also helps local workers to operate in a safe environment including giving them the rights to raise health and safety issues without fear.”
Leader of Birmingham City Council Cllr Ian Ward said: “Birmingham is currently going through an exciting period of construction and regeneration that will shape this city and the lives of our citizens for generations to come.
“The construction industry is right at the heart of building that brighter future for the people of Birmingham and we’re delighted to be working with Unite to ensure that our construction projects meet the highest standards for workers and for residents.”
Councillor Steve Trow, leader of Sandwell Council, said: “These are important charters which confirm the council’s support and commitment to our staff, residents and businesses in Sandwell on issues that matter to them.”
In Birmingham there are major regeneration projects currently underway or are in the pipeline including; Birmingham Smithfield, Curzon Masterplan, Langley Sustainable Urban Extension and Peddimore employment development and the Commonwealth Games Athletes’ Village.
In the West Midlands, Coventry, Wolverhampton, Coventry and Dudley councils have signed Unite’s Construction Charter.
Birmingham City Council announces preferred development partner for Birmingham Smithfield
Birmingham City Council has announced Lendlease as its development partner to deliver the transformation of the 17-hectare Birmingham Smithfield site.
Located in the heart of the city centre, Birmingham Smithfield is a £1.5 billion redevelopment project that will reposition the city on an international stage.
Lendlease will form a contractual joint venture with the city council and lead the creation of an urban quarter that includes a new home for the city’s historic Bull Ring retail markets, a unique family destination including a leisure and cultural offer, a new public square, integrated public transport and more than 2,000 homes with a public park and community facilities.
The development of Birmingham Smithfield is part of the city’s Big City Plan, launched in 2010, which sets out a 25-year vision to grow the city centre by more than 25 per cent. As one of the areas of transformation, Birmingham Smithfield is located directly adjacent to the Bullring and New Street Station; and will be a short walk from the new High Speed 2 City Centre Terminus Station which is set to open in 2026.
Councillor Ian Ward, Leader of Birmingham City Council said: “We are extremely excited to be working with Lendlease who are an internationally leading developer with a proven track record of bringing forward major development schemes. The delivery of Birmingham Smithfield will be a major boost for Birmingham. With the new cultural and leisure attractions, the public realm, new homes and retail markets the development will appeal to both national and international audiences. Alongside these fantastic new facilities, the development will also deliver substantial benefits for the people of Birmingham. Lendlease have committed to invest in the local community and create 1,000s of new jobs and training opportunities. This scheme will create a legacy for the citizens of Birmingham and become an exemplar for inclusive economic growth.”
Welcoming the appointment, the Rt Hon Liam Fox MP, Secretary of State for Department of International Trade, said: “I’m delighted to welcome this significant investment into Birmingham which will bring jobs and prosperity to the city and surrounding areas, also creating substantial opportunities for the local supply chain. It demonstrates the significant potential of the Midlands Engine region at a time when overseas investment into the UK is at its highest level ever.
“The Department for International Trade is committed to encouraging investment into the whole of the UK, and I’m pleased that teams from across my department – in the UK and internationally – were able to support this major project.”
Waheed Nazir, Corporate Director for Economy, Birmingham City Council, said: “Birmingham Smithfield is the city’s most important redevelopment opportunity. The site is the location where Birmingham first developed and where its future will now be defined. The calibre of bidders that have been attracted through the procurement process has shown the strength of the city as a place to invest. Lendlease has the capabilities and resources to realise the city’s vision and deliver a truly transformational development scheme. Working with Lendlease we will be creating a new family leisure destination complemented by an exciting mix of cultural facilities, independent retail and business space. This will create a major attractor for residents and visitors. The scheme will have an emphasis on green infrastructure alongside community facilities and affordable housing.”
Lendlease, a leading international property and infrastructure development company, has been selected following an OJEU Competitive Dialogue Procurement process. Lendlease has delivered major developments across the UK including the iconic Bluewater shopping centre in Kent, the 2012 Athletes’ Village and is continuing work on International Quarter London, a major commercial scheme in Stratford.
Dan Labbad, CEO, Lendlease, Europe, said: “Smithfield is the birthplace of Birmingham, known for its markets which have always been at the heart of the city. Much like Birmingham itself, the area is brimming with creativity and opportunity. Our plans for the redevelopment will respect this heritage and bring more jobs, homes and environmental benefits to the area and the people of Birmingham.”
Lendlease is also working on the over station development of Euston, south London’s Elephant Park and was recently selected as the preferred contractor for Birmingham’s Perry Barr development, due for completion in 2022. It will now use its wealth of experience to bring to life plans for the growth of the city centre – creating more opportunities for local people and businesses and increasing economic growth for Birmingham and the wider West Midlands region.
The redevelopment of the area, which is twice the size of Brindleyplace, is expected to take 15 years to complete. The first phase of the scheme will include new homes, the new retail markets building and public realm.
The city council will now work with Lendlease to finalise the terms of the partnership, commence the preparation of a planning application and produce a business plan for the site’s redevelopment before the formal award of the Birmingham Smithfield Development Partner contract. This is anticipated to happen by late 2019 with development expected to commence in 2022.
The site is part of the Birmingham City Centre Enterprise Zone, which was established in 2011 to unlock key city centre development sites and accelerate growth.
Tim Pile, Chair of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP), said: “As one of our largest Enterprise Zone sites, Birmingham Smithfield will play a crucial role in generating economic growth and job creation for the city and its surrounding areas. The scheme is set to become a unique destination that will attract more visitors, new businesses and investment here. Birmingham City Council’s announcement of its preferred partner is a key milestone in realising the ambitious vision for Birmingham Smithfield. With Enterprise Zone designation, we are also able to secure funding to improve local infrastructure, which will help to accelerate the delivery of this site.”