Big City Plan Consultation – my two penn’orth

Birmingham’s Big City Plan has gone live with its consultation process. After initially getting frustrated with the site this morning (had other stuff I was meant to be doing anyway, you know, work stuff) I’ve given it another go and immediately found a question on walking/cycling links between the centre and Digbeth that is a bit of a pet topic of mine.

So I put in my response (not overly considered, bit of a brain dump) and pressed submit. Turns out I’d answered question 42 when I wanted to answer question 41. The mistake was thinking the ‘add comments’ below the question was the right one – it isn’t, it’s above the question. Was a touch confusing or maybe I’m a touch thick. I can’t work out if the comments are viewable by others but here’s what I wrote in answer to question 41, ‘How can we ensure good walking and cycling connections between Digbeth and the city core?’:

There are some real practical problems in getting from Selfridges to the Custard Factory along Digbeth High Street. Leaving the Bull Ring area from the gap between St Martin’s and Selfridges presents a number of difficulties. The key one is the positioning of the bus stop outside the ‘Digbeth Cold Storage’ building. A crowd gathers here and on the narrow pavement it becomes very difficult to get past(especially with pushchair in tow, worse still in a wheelchair). There are five junctions to cross to get to the Custard Factory and the area has a slight feel of being in decline (fast food shops, a sex shop, empty former car garage, derelict land). Addressing this should be a priority in order to increase footfall in this area – to prevent it feeling like the place where the city centre stops. This could include traffic calming or major realignment of the road (which could include bike lanes).

An alternative connection to Digbeth, and one that is under-used is Fazeley st. this is an impressive, straight road with much industrial heritage on it. Perhaps this could be considered as a new gateway to the area? I see a tree-lined boulevard perhaps? Or perhaps this is the road that traffic could be routed down to relieve traffic on the high street. Whichever way, clearer signage and some consideration to how the area betweenthe city and custard factory ‘feels’ should be considered.

The canals could be better utilised perhaps – I doubt many people realise that they offer a direct(ish) route to the NIA/Brindley place from Digbeth. It’s a fascinating route as well – couple of lovely narrow tunnels and a glimpse of all the new flats around the post office tower. Making Fazeley st. a focus would revitalise Typhoo wharf as the gateway to the canal system.

Once you have responded it produces a PDF for you to file away – quite handy actually. Now that I’ve got the hang of it I’ll respond further (and will copy them on here until you get bored of them). As a process for formal consultation it’s not too bad actually – but love to have everyone’s comments come through in an RSS feed as they put them in though, that’d be great.

6 thoughts on “Big City Plan Consultation – my two penn’orth

  1. Think you are right about the Fazely Street option, but a lot depends on the “planned” Warwick Bar development along that route. I find Digbeth High Street a noisy, broken down and vaguely dangerous place. Custard Factory and Millenium Point both suffer from serious disconnects with the city centre. In the current economic climate/storm there is little chance of decent development along either route.

  2. Spot on re: Digbeth Cold Storage and bus stops. I’m ‘young’ spry and sportily compact yet usually end up having to walk in road (into oncoming bus usually :). , i was really suprised when this didn’t figure in the redevelopment of the Bull Ring.
    Couldn’t agree more that Digbeth definitely needs some ‘re-intergration’ into the City Centre, i work at the Custard Factory and am well aware of the problems the few retailers there have regarding footfall.,If the refurbishment is to succeed Digbeth has to figure big in the B.C.P.


  3. Thanks for your comments. Helpful.

    The BCP site will have a space (email to me) for more informal comments and thoughts — in addition to the formal Limehouse questionnaire you answered. We want to capture as much as we can.


  4. I have yet to have time to think about the Digbeth section so im going to leave it for a few days. One thing that does bug me living on Bradford St is the volume of Busses that run down there. I wish some of them could go down the High Street as its all i seem to hear. I guess you get used to it though.

    The only thing i have added so far is on the ‘Connectivity’ page in general in which i commented:

    I fully support a town centre Tram system. Currently living in Digbeth it is not feasible to always walk to areas such as the Mailbox and Brindley Place, which are core parts of the city. Im also sure it is equally frustrating for those that live on that side of the city to go to the Bullring shopping. Especially if a new park is planned for Eastside. There are also the many tourists that are attracted to either the Bullring or Broad Street, that given easier access to either side would surely use the other facilities and therefore boost the city’s economy.

    The green benefits are there also as my friends and I often take Buses/Taxis around the city to make these journeys manageable in adverse weather and late at night.

    There must be a link as simple as a tram around the city, if not just one that runs from the Bullring, down New Street to Brindley Place/Symphony Hall and/or NIA. It feels that the city centre is split in two down new street and if smaller places like Nottingham can manage a tram system i’m sure Birmingham can. If we want to get back ahead of Manchester, this is a basic transport requirement.

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