A vision to revitalise historic landscape between the Black Country, Birmingham and Tamworth to maximise the benefits of high speed rail has been unveiled.
The landmark plans drawn up by Kathryn Moore, Professor of Landscape Architecture at Birmingham City University, for the Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership, has examined how the Tame Valley area could play a key role for the region.
The University, part of WMCU, hosted a seminar looking at how to provide the West Midlands with a robust economy and environmental legacy. Speakers outlined the importance of environmental preservation including a vision of the future for the Tame Valley, laid out in a report written by Professor Moore.
The area encompasses parts of the Black Country, Birmingham, North Warwickshire, Coventry, Solihull and Tamworth, with the opportunity for additional benefits to extend as far as Nottingham and Leicester.
In the document titled The Tame Valley Landscape Development, Moore examines how the arrival of HS2 presents the perfect opportunity for the area to be transformed into a place of beauty boasting a home for wildlife and miles of scenic footpaths.
Parts of the valley are currently hidden from view and difficult to access due to railways, powerlines and motorways, while the rest has very little infrastructure to make the most of the beauty spots.
As part of the region’s plans to prepare for the arrival of the high speed rail line, Professor Moore believes the Tame Valley area should be regenerated for its wide-reaching aesthetic, economic and environmental benefits.
The plans have been drawn up over a period of five years taking into account the history of the area, its landscape, climate and ecosystems, and include:
- Creating a 1,000 mile network of footpaths trails and cycle routes connecting homes, schools and shops
- Conserving wetlands which capture and store carbon
- Building new homes on higher ground overlooking the valley
- Creating new draining systems and rain gardens in Pelsall, Walsall, Solihull, New Arley and Polesworth
- Helping the land continue to serve as a natural habitat for wildlife.
Professor Kathryn Moore said: “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to reshape the landscape of England by seizing the opportunity to reinvent and rekindle the connection between the people and the countryside.”
Over the next 25 years the transformation of the Tame Valley would also provide benefits for social and economic prosperity of the region by conserving valuable water, creating new homes and reducing carbon levels.
Also speaking at the event were Peter Miller, Environment Director at HS2 and Richard Cowell, Assistant Director for Planning and Regeneration at Birmingham City Council.
It is hoped that the plans can now be used to help shape the way the West Midlands approaches infrastructure projects by taking into consideration the historic environment and rural parts of the area.
Emma Howard Boyd, Chair of the Environment Agency, said: “In the next decade and beyond, the West Midlands area will undergo significant change across its landscape, not least of all because of the proposed High Speed 2 railway.
“Transport and connectivity has always been the key to economic growth and development and the Environment Agency is keen to help support sustainable growth but also to ensure that we leave a legacy that we will all be proud of.”