die belebende Bedenkung

HS2 and Birmingham blight

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Birmingham Eastside panorama 2012

Planning blight, according to the Free Dictionary, is

the harmful effects of uncertainty about likely restrictions on the types and extent of future development in a particular area on the quality of life of its inhabitants and the normal growth of its business and community enterprises.

In the last few weeks, the blight effects of HS2 in the Birmingham area have begun to get wider coverage. Although only adjacent to (not on) the land designated for the Curzon Street high speed station in Birmingham Eastside, Island House fell victim to the demolition men earlier this month (March 2012). Its owners claimed that uncertainty about HS2 had made the building impossible to rent out. And on 15 March, the Birmingham Post reported that three historic Birmingham pubs adjacent to the Curzon Street site were also threatened by HS2.

On 30 March, Birmingham Post columnist Joe Holyoak wrote that the plans for Curzon Street would sever the Digbeth area from the city centre. Neighbourhood severance has been a big problem for Birmingham’s central business district. In the last few years, the council has spent millions trying to break the Queensway ‘concrete collar’ that was dreamed up after the Second World War.

The plans published in the draft [Eastside] masterplan document make the severance effect [of Curzon Street HS2] clear, but the accompanying text employs the tactic that the fictional country of Airstrip One in George Orwell’s 1984 used – labelling things as the opposite of what they are.

The map that shows that Fazeley Street and Park Street are to be closed and buried under the new station is labelled Connectivity.

Another problem is that Curzon Street HS2 is intended to have six platform faces, but fitting three island platforms into the space would not be straightforward. It’s difficult to see what clearance there would be between the structure supporting the HS2 tracks, and the historic Curzon Street station building.

Also in its 15 March edition, the Post reported that Birmingham’s Labour Party has pledged to ditch plans for a High Speed Rail maintenance depot at Washwood Heath if it takes control of the city council in May.

In a wide-ranging economic policy manifesto, launched for the run-up to the May 3 local election, Labour leader Sir Albert Bore says he will instead regenerate the former LDV and Alstom sites for the low carbon motor industry, building on the success of Jaguar Land Rover.

The site has been earmarked for an HS2 depot, but with the line not set to open until 2026 there is a chance it could be blighted for almost 15 years.

The threat posed to the Meriden Gap by HS2 was made clear in Professor Andrew McNaughton’s speech at Irail 2012. On 24 March, the Daily Telegraph reported

Up to 100,000 homes would be built on green belt in the Midlands near the controversial High Speed 2 rail route as part of a dramatic expansion of housing.

The plan, disclosed by Andrew McNaughton, the chief engineer of HS2, would exploit the new and highly controversial National Planning Policy Framework, which aims to simplify Britain’s planning laws, increase economic growth and provide homes for Britain’s booming population.

If it goes ahead, the development would effectively obliterate the open countryside east of Birmingham to create Britain’s longest continuous conurbation, stretching 40 miles [65 km] from Coventry to the far side of Wolverhampton.


Written by beleben

March 31, 2012 at 10:32 am

One Response

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  1. […] was Camden councillor Sarah Hayward, who mentioned the blight effects caused by uncertainty. As in Birmingham, the zone potentially affected by HS2 in Camden is considerably larger than the land required for […]

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