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As has been mentioned I would love to see Highgate Park extended, it would be great if it went from where is it now down to and incorporating the St Luke’s development. I appreciate that roads cross this area, but there are parks in other countries with the same.

I too am keen to see the viaduct transformed into a park. It would be something truly unique in the city.
 

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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.
Canal River Trust regional offices are not here; they are in Aqua House, Lionel Street on the edge of the Jewellery Quarter
 

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Currently the use of diesel trains in New Street Station makes the filling of the void impossible due to ventilation issues at the station but with central governments changing stance on diesel engines and the announcement of a complete ban on petrol and diesel engines by 2040 you would expect government to lead by example and come up with a plan to phase out the diesel train fleet in the not too distant future.
Unfortunately, in response to Network Rail's disastrous cost overruns on Great Western electrification. the Government has changed its stance in the opposite direction. According to gormless Grayling, diesel trains are now better than electric trains. So the dream of a diesel fume-free New Street has receded into the unforeseeable future.
 

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Thanks Ell those pics really show how much space is available between the towers to extend the park.

Thinking about D Badgers suggestion of “repurposing the tower blocks completely” the towers could be refurbished including making the changes already discussed to landscape and extend the park boundaries. After the refurbishment the towers could be used as an additional athlete’s village during the Commonwealth Games to support the venues in the city cetre and when the games are over used as serviced apartment hotels with profits going directly to BCC.

Alternative accommodation for the tenants of the towers could be offered at Icknield Port Loop which is just a short distance away although some of the tenants who have purchased their apartments may need paying off.

I have worked out that there are approximately 65x 1-2 bedroom apartments per block. So that would be 260 apartments in total. Charging a nightly rate of £100 per night would equate to £26,000 per day (£9,490.000 per year) before running costs are taken out.

The current selling price of an existing apartment located in the towers is 90-100K.

With regards the voids at New Street Station. I was thinking about this further after reading some of the comments made above and I see no reason why the 2 large voids off Navigation Street to the west could not be filled in now. This would still leave 1 large void west and 1 large void east of the station left alone for ventilation purposes.

JD88, I joined SSC as I have a creative mind and this site gives me the opportunity to express my thoughts and ideas. If Andy Street is reading my posts and wants to hire me to take my ideas forward then great, I’m in. Otherwise I will just stick to the site and not get involved in the nitty-gritty. Having said all this I’m always happy to brain storm ideas, offer support and advice to any fellow SSC member. I’m partial to Costa so if you are around Selly Oak anytime in the not too distant future then send me a private message and I’ll happily forward you my contact details.
 

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Thanks Ell those pics really show how much space is available between the towers to extend the park.

Thinking about D Badgers suggestion of “repurposing the tower blocks completely” the towers could be refurbished including making the changes already discussed to landscape and extend the park boundaries. After the refurbishment the towers could be used as an additional athlete’s village during the Commonwealth Games to support the venues in the city cetre and when the games are over used as serviced apartment hotels with profits going directly to BCC.

Alternative accommodation for the tenants of the towers could be offered at Icknield Port Loop which is just a short distance away although some of the tenants who have purchased their apartments may need paying off.

I have worked out that there are approximately 65x 1-2 bedroom apartments per block. So that would be 260 apartments in total. Charging a nightly rate of £100 per night would equate to £26,000 per day (£9,490.000 per year) before running costs are taken out.

The current selling price of an existing apartment located in the towers is 90-100K.

With regards the voids at New Street Station. I was thinking about this further after reading some of the comments made above and I see no reason why the 2 large voids off Navigation Street to the west could not be filled in now. This would still leave 1 large void west and 1 large void east of the station left alone for ventilation purposes.

JD88, I joined SSC as I have a creative mind and this site gives me the opportunity to express my thoughts and ideas. If Andy Street is reading my posts and wants to hire me to take my ideas forward then great, I’m in. Otherwise I will just stick to the site and not get involved in the nitty-gritty. Having said all this I’m always happy to brain storm ideas, offer support and advice to any fellow SSC member. I’m partial to Costa so if you are around Selly Oak anytime in the not too distant future then send me a private message and I’ll happily forward you my contact details.
Ah nothing like repurposing public housing for corporate means in a city desperately short of social housing to ignite a scandal. Don't get me wrong, the ambition is admirable but it's hugely unlikely due to a whole host of factors.

The only reason why these blocks would be demolished (which is so much more likely than conversion) is if there is an inherent issue with them that makes them unsuitable for habitation. Given they were recently extensively refurbished, that seems way off (although there is a running joke that refurbishment tends to mean they're 5 years from demolition).

Their demolition would also have to be done with a view towards catalysing the regeneration of the area. But as we can evidently see, this area is in the final stages of regeneration. There would be minimal economic benefit to the area in relation to cost as far as BCC would be concerned.

Rehousing is a nightmare at the moment. It can take many years from condemning a tower block for demolition to finally rehousing the last residents in a city like Birmingham. Multiply that by 4 blocks and it's a monumental task. If we were actually building social housing it would be substantially easier but we're not and it's unlikely we will be for some time.


And regarding the voids, the main reason it can't be done now is cost and logistics. You are really looking at many millions of pounds. The small void was comfortably covered over because it caused minimal disruption to train operations and, obviously, it was small area to cover.
 

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Ah nothing like repurposing public housing for corporate means in a city desperately short of social housing to ignite a scandal. Don't get me wrong, the ambition is admirable but it's hugely unlikely due to a whole host of factors.
That’s why if you read my other posts you will see further options.

1. Keep the tower blocks as they are
2.
Repurpose the tower blocks into a serviced apartment hotel
3.
Demolish the tower blocks

Obviously option 1 is the cheapest and most likely to be taken up. So moving forward I have found a solution to turn the towers into landmark buildings and compliment the newly created park environment surrounding them. Enjoy.


https://youtu.be/8TRtGoHnNsQ
 

· Kingsheathen
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Those living walls on the building look great, but they also look really expensive to maintain. I rarely see a living wall that looks in good condition.

I'm not sure most brumies would want more of their taxes spent on a load of living walls on some social housing tower blocks. I'd be all for it of course. It would be a great way to hide the tower blocks without rehousing the tenants and being accused of social cleansing.

Of course I'd prefer to see the blocks demolished and the tenants moved to another area. Ideally dispersed with the general population to prevent 'sink estate' areas.

It is possible to rehouse tenants and demolish blocks like this. Nearly all the Castle Vale blocks are gone. I drove past them today and hardly any lights were on, so it looks like the remaining ones will go soon too.

There used to be a few tower blocks by the A38 in Aston. Now there's just one and there are no lights in it at night. Probably due for demolition soon.

Unfortunately I think it's unlikely that buildings will be demolished and parks created. It's just too expensive. People don't want to pay for it.

It's more realistic to plan mixed developments that include parks. Developers will make money from the new buildings and contribute towards the parks as part of the scheme.
 

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Living walls are actually quite good as added insulation to buildings and can also be used to manage rain water, should be encouraged along all dead street frontages and instead of brick or concrete walls in my opinion, I think up to 1st floor level would be ideal as any higher and maintaining them becomes more of an issue

Also helps with reducing graffiti problems, that said the living wall along new st went through a phase of the local drug addicts putting their used needles in the bedding...

Should encourage either solar panels, rooftop gardens or the living moss roof tops on all new developments or as a condition to refurbishing buildings

I think if that was adopted across the city the need for a full park would be reduced with greenery surrounding every part of the city in the form of living walls etc.
 

· Kingsheathen
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I can think of three prominent living walls in Birmingham. They are at New Street Station, Snow Hill metro line and Rhubarb building in Digbeth.

Last time I saw these walls they all had significant areas of dead or dying plants.

I love living walls but they are clearly expensive and hard to maintain.
 

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In all fairness, did you see them in Winter. That is want to damage the look of a living wall, sadly, but there isn't much way around that.

Though I've never seen the Snow Hill one look bad myself. New Street looks a bit sorry for itself at the moment however.
 

· Kingsheathen
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In all fairness, did you see them in Winter. That is want to damage the look of a living wall, sadly, but there isn't much way around that.

Though I've never seen the Snow Hill one look bad myself. New Street looks a bit sorry for itself at the moment however.


The last time I saw them was in winter but I've seen the Rhubarb one looking a bit sad on a few occasions.
 
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That’s why if you read my other posts you will see further options.

1. Keep the tower blocks as they are
2.
Repurpose the tower blocks into a serviced apartment hotel
3.
Demolish the tower blocks

Obviously option 1 is the cheapest and most likely to be taken up. So moving forward I have found a solution to turn the towers into landmark buildings and compliment the newly created park environment surrounding them. Enjoy.

https://youtu.be/8TRtGoHnNsQ
I'd agree with option 1, and then 2 when the flats have reached the end of their life.

Anyway, I was recently fiddling about with a google area calculator and the current City Centre Gardens comes in at 1.3 acres; if you were to demolish the MSP and included it then this would increase to 2.65; with the halls of residence it would go up to 3.9; and with all four tower blocks demolished as well you would have a relatively large park of some 9.1 acres (which would be bigger than Highgate Park) only 500 metres from the Town Hall. Extend the canal branch to its original length and you'd have a beautiful green space behind Centenary Square.
 
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