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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This may sound like a rather unusual (some may say slightly dull) thread. Apologies!

I find certain areas of Birmingham very attractive and it's usually to do with the level of greenery that that particular locality has - the greener the better by and large. The contrast with other areas within Birmingham that have little obvious greenery is stark.

My question is would you also like to see more green in Birmingham and if so what ideas do you have to make the city more green.

To start with: I think the city centre should have a small park and I would place it at Baskerville Wharf close to where students, office workers and leisure visitors gather.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thank you Ell, that was exactly the place for the location of the small park!

As you can see the City Centre Gardens site could easily be expanded out, possibly down to the canal area. I'm fairly sure that the council own the land surrounding the Gardens including the Towers and the car park; the Halls of Residence land I am not sure about but they do look like they need to be refurbished and given that they are affiliated with UCB (?) which is a public institution there should be room for negotiations.

There are two major problems however. Firstly how do you relocate the tenants from the towers? They are likely to be aggrieved as you can't get any more central than where they are and plus they have excellent on site public realm and car parking spaces. Tough decisions would have to be made but ultimately a great space such as this one should be shared by the many rather than the few. There shall surely be spaces along Digbeth High Street for people to move to which has the added benefit of the Metro.

The second problem lies with the Baskerville Wharf development - one which looks dull and unimaginative to say the least. I can only politely say that it would be regrettable if the proposal got the green light. I will let my thoughts known to the Council and question whether they could buy the land themselves.

The city will be changing a lot over the next 10 years and having had a look at sefton66's excellent directory thread it appears that over 13,000 households could be built within the ring road as well as all the student halls developments to accommodate the BCU move. Potentially then another 30,000 people will make the move to the city centre - a population the size of Wawrick. That doesn't include the office workers that move to the Great Charles Estate, nor Paradise, Arena Central or Brindleyplace who may use the park at lunchtimes. Nor does it include the young families who visit the park having been to the Sealife Centre or Legoland Discovery Centre.

All those people who move to or visit the city centre will factor in how liveable or attractive the place is. One well known way of achieving that is to have a fantastically located park in which to relax in.

If you agree with what I say can I ask that you provide me with a like as it helps to show that I have a decent idea here and it may mean that I will be taken more seriously by the Council. Alternatively if you disagree or think my position carries too many holes then let me know as I can refine it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Highgate Park is definately overlooked and has a lot of promise. The views that you get from it are some of the best throughout the city. As people have said once residents move along Moseley Street and Cheapside it may allow the opportunity to invest more in the park.

I'm not sure how the park would move all the way to Smithfield however unless the Council decide to buy a strip of land.

In regards the change.org petition for a park I'm glad that o'flaneurie informed us about this. With signatures moving towards the 5000 mark it clearly indicates that there is a strong demand for a central park. However, I can't see it happening at the heart of the Smithfield development unfortunately. Why would an international investor go to the trouble of spending money on demolition work to then construct a park in which it receives no rental income? Only some really savvy politics would allow it to happen I can imagine. Also it would be right next to the Bullring and the new markets and so I would have thought further leisure facilities would be favoured for development purposes.

I don't think you can get any better than City Centre Gardens for location: it's in between the Jewellery Quarter and the canal developments which are existing residential areas. The best thing about it though is that the basis for a park is already there; you could even argue, going by Ell's photo, that it looks odd that towers have been allowed to be built on this 'park' - that the buildings themselves are the anomaly rather than the green space. It has similarities with Chamberlain Gardens in this respect.

If you read other media outlets there is a fair amount of disappointment that the Paradise development has not provided any significant open space in a central location. City Centre Gardens are right next door and the detractors may quieten down somewhat if there is room to have a lazy afternoon or a late night open-air Steve Winwood concert (?).
 

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Discussion Starter · #25 ·
Extending City Centre Gardens to the canal would IMO really enhance the city. This is such a central location for a recreational space it would be perfect. I can already imagine myself sitting on a park bench looking out at the canal and watching the world go by.

I have a young family and often visit the local parks around my local area of Solihull to grab some fresh air, clear the mind, let the kids ride their bikes and expel some energy in the play area. Best part of this it’s all for free.

I often think if I decided to live in Birmingham City Centre where I could do this without having to travel 3 miles out of the city to Cannon Hill Park. There is a small play area in Eastside Park but it’s very small and more geared up for use by toddlers. I also have a decent sized garden so why would I want to sell up and move to the city centre?

I love Birmingham City Centre and watching the city develop. I would like live in the heart of the city and watch it develop at close hand but unfortunately the current green space infrastructure just doesn’t work for families. I reckon a lot of family’s think like this so it’s no wonder most of the new apartments being built are only 1 or 2 bedrooms.

London on the other hand is so far ahead and has number of large parks, public squares, Thames path and better public transport to help get around. London also has a lot of is small beautifully planted and well maintained garden spaces dotted around in residential areas. They are like a small Oasis located within the bustling city. These areas are normally private gated areas with black iron perimeter fencing surrounding them.

In Birmingham these areas don’t exist. I’m not sure London councils insist on adding these areas during the planning process. In Birmingham on the other hand there a lots of surface car parks that could be developed and would also go a long way in enhancing green spaces in the city.

Great thread by the way.
I really hoped I would get a response such as this. If there is anybody in the council's planning department reading I think they should pay attention to this post.

Going back to Erebus555's post I agree that increasing the size of a park doesn't necessarily make it better. Often we have to look at what purpose the park/ green space carries and whether more people will use the space in accordance with the increase in size. You mention that Birmingham has many open spaces and in Ladywood, for example, there are many open green spaces and although I don't know the viewpoint of the residents in that area I can imagine that they wouldn't feel any real benefit from an increase in that space. In fact there was talk a while ago that a secondary school would operate from there and that would be a sensible option given the employment opportunities it creates for the local area.

However, bringing it back to City Centre Gardens I would choose to include this particular green space within the anomaly category that you mention. I think the increase in size to approximately 9-10 acres (not massive) would provide a discernible benefit. It is my suspicion that the Gardens go a little under the radar at present but that would be difficult if they were increased in size and had a name change to City Centre Park. Think of all the UCB, BCU and Aston students who would regularly use it for instance. In the medium to long term to some extent it may even make those universities more attractive to a wider pool of students and staff as Birmingham city centre's reputation for green space fundamentally changes for the better.

I apologise o'flaneurie I think there has been a little misunderstanding with my belief that there will be no park in Smithfield. There is certainly room for green space for this development and any development! I just consider a park to be somewhat larger and if we were to create a 10 acre park it would take up a third of the available space approximately. Incidentally there is an area of council owned land in Digbeth which is currently used as a refuse disposal centre. It may have the potential for park use - not so attractive for residential development due to average accessibility and with it be so close to the train lines. Would make a nice entrance for HS2 however and could be used by BCU students. It depends on how it fits in with Curzon masterplan however.

Ell the photos for Peace Gardens and Highgate Park are really good ones. It shows that Highgate Park only needs some tlc to be turned into a decent Victorian park once again: re-tarmacing the path, upgrading the benches and possibly some street lighting. Possible Heritage Lottery grant once all the new residents arrive into the surrounding streets? The Peace Gardens, which from a map can look like the third brother of the squares in relation to St. Phillip's and St. Pauls's, has more problems because it relies in my opinion on the surrounding developments which have really poor street scenes. Hopefully if the real estate to the east of the square was to be redeveloped an active street would be considered.

DBadger I am originally from Shrewsbury and the Quarry park makes a massive difference to the town, especially with it being located by the river, although you probably already know that. If something like the Dingle was to find a place in Birmingham I guess it would be located at Cannon Hill Park.

Sorry for going on so long and I will from now on speak more about other green ideas rather than City Centre Park!
 

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Discussion Starter · #36 ·
Regarding the voids, I'm curious does anybody have any information as to why there have to be multiple voids to the west of New Street station rather than the one to the east?

Whilst walking in the centre today at lunchtime I was struck by how much the Centenary Way footbridge could do with a freshen up whilst viewing it from afar - possibly with the inclusion of some green? It doesn't seem right that it sits in between two developments which have a lot of money being spent on them whilst it sits neglected of attention. Certainly during the Commonwealth Games it could be given some gravitas by being lit up with a little flair.

I think with the Highgate Park upgrade you could be talking about a 10-15 year wait whilst the area around it becomes steadily more residential which would then generate the demand for improvements.
 

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Discussion Starter · #38 ·
Just thinking how you could extend City Centre Gardens to create a large park from Cambridge Street to the canal on a small budget.

Ideally you would take down the 4 tower blocks but with some creative landscaping and design the towers could be left alone and incorporated into the park. The additional park space could be created by landscaping over the towers access roads and parking areas. Planting of tall shrubs and trees could be higher around the towers so they would blend in to the park landscape and still feel private to the residents. Free parking could be offered to the residents within one of the council run car parks on Brindley Drive so residents would not lose out.

I would only remove the low rise social housing block on Kingston Row meaning a small number of residents would need rehousing as a result. Maybe 20-30 I would guess?

To part of Cambridge Street I would create a service road for the buildings facing Centenary Square with remote controlled barriers at both ends. Remove the roundabout to make the park a little bigger and resurface the service road by continuing the paving scheme from Centenary Square.

The main entrance to the park would be from the passageway between the ICC and Rep Theatre and also directly from the canal network.

So if all this was costed I don’t think this would be a great deal of money to achieve. I will leave this with someone in the council to do the Cost-Benefit Analysis.
I went for a walk around the whole of the Baskerville Wharf site beyond the City Centre Gardens at lunchtime in order to assess a little more about how decent an extended park would actually be in reality.

I can report back and safely say an extension would be genuinely GREAT!

I now have no doubts whatsoever that a park extension to the canals would be a wonderful addition to Birmingham city centre for all the residents and vistors to enjoy. From the tranquil and beautiful but neglected surrounds of James Brindley Walk to the attractive canalscape on the other side which includes the Canal and River Trust's regional headquarters the park would bring something of an oasis of calm to the hustle and bustle that surrounds it.

Another couple of things were checked. Firstly, having read Erebus555's comment regarding connectivity matters to accessing the park I can now say that there are now no connectivity problems: there are direct pedestrian links both to the Jewellery Quarter and the Paradise development whilst you only have to cross Cambridge Street in order to get to Centenary Square or Brindleyplace.

Secondly, I had some concerns as to whether there were any chunks of land that were not owned by the Council. After having spoken to a credible source I can say that the Council do indeed own all of the land (apart from the Baskerville Wharf development site which is rather small comparably).

Admittedly from one side of the Gardens you do have the back end of Baskerville House, the Library and the Rep which isn't the best sight but from another side you have the Summer Row bars and Paradise whilst from another you have the very picturesque views of the canal and wharf. I think the back end of some buildings is a detail we can overlook somewhat.

Brum Boy I would be happy to meet up to discuss how to approach the Council if you like. Alternatively I can provide you with my telephone number. My own viewpoint is that it would be better to seek the full extension of the park in one go as I have concerns that if it was to be split into phases the whole process may drag out and lose momentum. Visible progress may take more time initially but once the funds are available matters should soon speed up and then doing it that way we wouldn't have to wait around for a second pot of funding.
 

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Discussion Starter · #68 ·
I'm in two minds about this idea. Certainly from an aesthetic point of view it is a vast improvement. The pictures in the B Post article show how much nicer Bristol Street is today in comparison to how it was.

However, I'm never quite sure what the cost/benefit ratio is for living walls, something which Kingsheathen pointed out earlier on in the thread. I think I may have to do a little research to find out how strong the causal links are between living walls and an improvement in air quality.

An idea I have had to increase green is to create a turf element along Corporation Street on the same lines as at Snow Hill. There have been complaints about how barren this street looks without the cars, buses and trees on it - a long stretch of green turf may help to change that perception.
 

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Discussion Starter · #72 ·
With regularly crossing points to avoid people ruining the turf, I agree to greening corp street
I was thinking upon the same lines entirely as this. The turf may also discourage jay walkers who sometimes slow the metro down and also put the city in a bad light to new visitors. The concern I do have with the turf is that it may put off future cyclists who are looking to get to Aston University.

Kingsheathen the trees from the photo look nice but I would be concerned how it would affect pedestrian flow for a street that has far greater numbers than the one you show for Brindleyplace. I don't think that the pavements along Corporation Street have the space to incorporate trees successfully.

The whole street looks a bit grey however - how about some coloured paints, varied lighting and a few potted plants?
 

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Discussion Starter · #77 ·
They incorporated large trees successfully for 20 years, at a time when the street was also full of buses.

I think this idea of turfing Corporation Street is very odd and would raise serious maintenance issues. Like TJF, I don't see why they could not reintroduce a few trees: in fact, I originally assumed this was what was going to happen.
TJF's point about delivery vehicles was something that I had overlooked and if they need to go along Corporation Street then the green turf wouldn't be a good idea I admit.

As a result of me being a bit nerdy I checked out on Google Maps whether those vehicles have to use Corporation Street for deliveries and it's not really clear. There is minimal parking for delivery drivers and it's all located on one side of the street. That bay of parking is very close to Fore Street that can be used by vehicles and which doesn't require access to Corporation Street. On the other side of the street it is even more unclear as I am not sure it is permitted for any vehicle to drive along it.

All in all a little confusing then! However, if there was no need to have delivery vehicles on Corporation Street then why not forbid all vehicles to drive along it which would enable some of the space to be turned into turf. I'm not sure what other maintenance matters you had in mind, any more than those at Snow Hill. On the other hand if the street is genuinely required to be used by delivery vehicles then in my opinion why not allow other means of transport such as electric battery taxis and bicycles. In either situation the road itself will look far more used.

Google Maps also does bring up images of what Corporation Street used to be like prior to the Metro. The difference is large. The trees that were planted then would not be used today as they would overhang onto the overhead cables. I noticed also that there were large potted plants along the pavement whilst the pavement itself was a different colour to the road. All of these differences made the street appear far more busier - too busy in my opinion.

I'm still not sold with trees on this particular stretch of pavement. I just don't think the pavements are wide enough and it may make the street a little clumsy if pedestrians have to continually navigate around them.

That said I don't know and there would be no harm in trialing trees to see if they could be placed successfully.
 
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