Well: we have been talking now for eighteen months or so about the ‘Smart Route’: a combination of Red Route and enhanced bus route which has been put forward as a possibility for the Warwick Road (A41) through Acocks Green centre. It seems something is about to happen. The much awaited West Midlands Local Transport Plan is out. You can download and read the difference sections here According to p. 105 of the ‘Draft Strategy Appendices’ in this plan:
Smart Routes require a change to the way in which network wide initatives are developed and funded. As a result, a pilot Smart Route has been progressed to develop a set of guidelines that can be adapted for the future development of the network
The A41 Warwick Road, between Birmingham and Solihull, was selected as the pilot route. This is being jointly developed by Birmingham and Solihull Councils, and Centro.
Meantime, the new final draft of the Birmingham Core Strategy document, under discussion until January 2011 goes on to note (p. 185, Section 8.37, E4 Acocks Green) that key objectives for Acocks Green include:
- To encourage the evolution of the centre in accordance with local need. This would include the consideration of opportunities for potential growth and the enhancement of gateways into the centre, particularly ‘The Green’.
- To complement the emerging proposals under the A41 ‘Smart Route’ pilot study.
- To improve accessibility and parking within the local centre and the adjacent residential areas.
(If you would like further clarification you can download the Core Strategy document, which gives the present plans for the whole of Birmingham here. We are promised that public consultation will follow from mid December for a period of 12 weeks – further details to follow when available.)
OK so what, in plain English, does all of this mean for Acocks Green? The Smart Route is going to happen. Could this be good for Acocks Green? Will this help to ‘improve accessibility and parking in the local centre?’ for example? We have the latest plans available to download below. Andy Chidgey, the Project leader has confirmed to us that the key finding after consultation with local people is that the number one priority is redesigning the present the dual cariageway Warwick Road through Acocks Green. Almost everyone seems to agree that positive effects from this would include more space for parking, more space for local people and – we hope – some attractive additions like trees! At the same time we would loose the present Brands Hatch speedway effect (see above) which has always sat oddly in the centre of a small urban village shopping centre.
What do Andy’s new (DRAFT) plans for Acocks Green look like? You can download and view all four of them here. The first two are options for the dual carriageway: retaining but modifying to traffic going one way in each direction and using the central reservation for trees, seating etc (1) or modifying to traffic one way in either direction but also removing the central reservation to create wider footways and additional parking (2)
The second pair of pdfs show two different new options for The Green itself. We think these are easy to understand and there are detailed notes on the plans showing how aspects are intended to work. We think these plans may still need further discussion, but it seems that ‘de-dualling’ has now been set to be the first priority.
Andy is also keen to emphasise that ‘Manual for Streets 2’ may become part of the Birmingham City Council vision for Acocks Green: ‘There are a number of things within it that we could use in Acocks Green and elsewhere.’ Manual for Streets 2, using the very latest safety research, approaches street design in the new, ‘de-cluttered’ way that is being widely discussed at present. More will be explained on Wednesday 8 December at Acocks Green Library. See our previous posting below this one, or view it here