An ambitious vision to create a National Park in the West Midlands which could create hundreds of miles of green space, conservation areas and new cycle routes has been unveiled.
The plans have been drawn up by Kathryn Moore, Professor of landscape architecture at Birmingham City University, and would make the region home to the UK’s 16th official National Park.
The vision was formally unveiled during the conference which was held at Birmingham City University’s City Centre Campus and featured talks from Mayor Andy Street, Dame Caroline Spelman and renowned landscape architect James Corner.
The idea uses the transformation of the region as a springboard, with the arrival of HS2, Birmingham’s successful bid for the 2022 Commonwealth Games and Coventry’s City of Culture win, reigniting the vibrancy and regeneration of the area.
Landscape Architects working on the vision suggest once detailed case studies have been carried out, a West Midland National Park could see the area categorised as ‘a region of a thousand cycle and footpaths, a thousand parks and a thousand lakes’ featuring extensive:
- Creative hubs
- New forests and woodlands
- Hi-tech agriculture
- Green Industries
- Systems of rainwater gardens and sustainable urban drainage
- Increased and better connected areas of biodiversity
- Engaged communities and networks working towards a new vision of what the West Midlands Combined Authority region could become in 20 years’ time.
‘When we think of a National Park our natural inclination is to look at rural areas but there are swathes of natural beauty right here in the heart of a metropolitan region,’ said Professor Moore.
‘For a long time the West Midlands has been viewed as a concrete jungle and the way that we have carried out our planning and construction has fed into that but if you look at the maps in a different way, there is huge potential for this project.
‘Not only could creating a national park bring some real economic, social and environmental benefits, it would also drive investment, boost tourism and create new jobs at the heart of the country,’ she added.
‘This vision is about making the most of the opportunities the region has right now and making sure the arrival of HS2, the Commonwealth Games and the City of Culture leave a lasting legacy here and something we can all be proud of.
‘This vision is all about quality of life. We want to have a better life, here together in the West Midland National Park. It starts here. It will happen.’