In March 09 a new series of draft plans were brought out by Birmingham Landscape Practice for Acocks Green Centre. These are available for viewing on this site NOW. To view these plans clickhere (or on the new page on the right).
This month, July 09, Acocks Green organisations and representatives, official and voluntary have received an invitation from Atkins Global, the Building and Engineering group, to attend a meeting on 6 August, to discuss a new idea for the Warwick Road and to give their opinons on what is required for Acocks Green Centre. The letter, headed ‘A41 Warwick Road Enhancements’ says that
‘Birmingham City Council, Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council and Centro are currently working in partnership to develop a series of transport improvements on the A41 Warwick Road corridor. […]
This project is the first of its kind in the West Midlands, and looks at all modes of transport (e.g. buses, cyclists, pedestrians, private cars, freight and rail including Park and Ride). The aim of the project is to make the most
efficient use of the route as a key transport corridor whilst at the same time recognising that people live, work and shop along the route.
At this early stage of the project we are using local knowledge to come up with detailed lists of the problems (issues) and potential solutions (opportunities) present along the route to develop the best possible
It now seems certain that what is actually meant by this is that it is intended that the A41 (ie the Warwick Road.) is to be the first site for a ‘Smart Route’. The full plans are described in a document which has been around on the internet for a while, The West Midlands Planning & Transportation Sub-Committee, 5th June 2009, Agenda Item 14, Smart Routes (Umbrella Initiatives). This can be viewed here
You will see that The Sub-Committee resolved to:
(i) Note the outcomes of the â€˜Umbrella Initiativesâ€™ workshop undertaken
with P&TSC (This means Birmingham City Council Planning and Transportation Strategy Departments) and PTA (This means the Passenger Transport Authority) members on 3rd December 2008
(ii) Endorse that further work be undertaken on the initiative under the
brand name of â€˜Smart Routesâ€™
(iii) Agree that the â€˜Smart Routesâ€™ principles should be adopted in
developing a potential network of Red Routes for inclusion in a Major
Scheme Business Case (MSBC) for submission to the Department for
(iv) Note the selection of the A41 Warwick Road as a Pilot Route
In other words, the Sub-Committee, in conjunction with Birmingham Planning and Transportation Departments, and the Passanger Transportation Authority, resolved that the A41 (Warwick Road) should be a Pilot Route for a species of Red Route called a ‘Smart Route’.
What is the difference between a normal Red Route and a ‘Smart Route’?
It is spelt out in the same document that work is going on:
‘[…] to coordinate the developement and implemenation of key network wide programmes, particularly Bus Showcase and Red Routes’
A ‘Smart Route’ seems, for Birmingham, to mean a mixture of a Bus Showcase route and a Red Route. See our new page on the Red Route in Shirley, on the link on the right, orhere There is one example of a Smart Route in operation in another area here. There is also a detailed explanation, with effective video, of how another Smart Route is envisaged in a different area here.
What sort of Smart Route would we want in Acocks Green? How would it work with the existing Landscape Practice Draft Plans already on the table?
The ‘Smart Routes (Umberella Initiatives’ document goes on to say that it is ‘apparent that one design solution cannot be applied to solve every problem identified.’ It talks of ‘lessons learned’ in connection with Red Routes. and ‘[…the importance of recognising the need for local variations in design approach and this will be reflected in ‘Revised Guidelines for Implementation’ being prepared […] The document further goes on to say that […] it is important that a flexible approach is adopted […] to address the agreed strategy for the route/corridor.’ Schemes, in some cases, would be treated as inidividual initiatives’. Later the document goes on to say that:
‘This initiative stresses the need to consider each street in its wider urban context, as both a movement channel forming part of the road network (i.e. a Link) and as Place in its own right. Design solutions should be influenced by both Link and Place user needs, and solutions will vary according to the balance of significance of these two at any location.’ (Section 4.13)
In other words there does seem some indication that a ‘One Size Fits All’ approach is not to be adopted. When The Focus Group spoke, recently, to Iain Bratigan of Atkins Global he was keen to emphasise that it may be possible to incorporate a version of The March 09 Landscape Practice Plans for Acocks Green into the new Warwick Road (A41) scheme, although, worryingly, he had not, at that point been supplied with a copy of these plans. (He now has them.)
If you feel that your organisation should be at the event to discuss the A41 (Warwick Road) Smart Route plans on 6 August 09, but has not had an invitation, then you should send an email, not to us, please, but to [email protected] . More details can now be viewed on.
http://www.warwickroad.org.uk/ – there is a link here
Please note this site is being created by Atkins Global, and has no connection, whatsoever, with the Acocks Green Focus Group website, other than that a link is being provided above. All questions about the website should be directed to [email protected] or to other suitable links on the site, when it appears.
What else can you do?
Urge your local organisation reps to attend the meeting on 6 August. Use the email contact above if your organisation needs details of that meeting. Contact Acocks Green Focus Group in the box below if you would like details of informal local meetings to discuss the implications of the Smart Route plans for Acocks Green (Note all postings are first previewed before being published on the site. Simple request for information about meetings will remain private, and will not go live on the site.
You are free to share any general thoughts about the Landscape Department Plans and/or the Smart Route plans for Acocks Green in the comments box below.
One final point. There has been some indication that some people think the project will not go ahead because of the economic crisis. There is indication of the possibility of very major funding for this project, as was explained in an earlier Birmingham Post article, which we reproduce here.