DIGBETH: £16m improvements ‘killing city centre’
Plans revealed to reduce the number of traffic lanes on Digbeth High Street as part of a £16 million project would ‘kill the city centre,’ it has been claimed.
Due to be discussed by the Cabinet tomorrow (May 18), the council is set to give the go-ahead to a range of works in the Digbeth area, which will coincide with the introduction of the Eastside extension of the Midland Metro.
And these include reducing the number of traffic lanes on Digbeth High Street to just one in each direction, in a further effort to make the city centre more pedestrian-friendly.
While full details are yet to be finalised, papers from tomorrow’s meeting note that “improvements to the quality of the public realm is needed, including safe and attractive walking and cycling routes, parks and other multi-use outdoor spaces.
And this will mean changes to the road layout in the area, with plans to reduce the traffic lanes on Digbeth High Street to one just one lane each way.
“The number of traffic lanes on Digbeth High Street will be reduced to one lane in each direction and a ‘bus, cycle and hackney carriage only’ restriction will also be introduced in both directions; eastbound between Floodgate Street and Gibb Street and westbound between Chapel House Street and the Digbeth High Street/Meriden St Junction,” the papers note.
“This will prevent through traffic from using the street whilst still allowing for access and servicing by general traffic.
“The works will be a catalyst for growth and regeneration in the area, necessitating redevelopment of the High Street’s urban realm to incorporate highways, bus, sprint and tram lanes, cycle paths and pedestrian areas.”
The idea of the works is to help create an ‘attractive, vibrant and pedestrian-friendly destination’ in Digbeth, which will include ‘safe and attractive walking routes’ and parks and other outdoor spaces.
The plans have received support from the majority of consultees, the council note, with 77.95 per cent of the 127 people asked saying they were broadly in support of the proposals.
However some took exception to the plans around motor vehicles, with responses to the consultation including: “You need to leave a route open for people to get into the city centre, you are killing the city centre with these reducing traffic ideas, an alternative like park and ride or something similar is needed”.
“Constant obstacles put in the way of traffic by Birmingham city council without much realistic alternatives in place,” added another.
“We should be able to drive around the city easily”.
“You are discriminating against people who for one reason or another can’t use public transport,” added a third.
“The areas leading in to the city are unsafe to walk through. Not because of the amount of cars. I’d gladly walk from Erdington to the city centre if there was a police presence on every street I would have to walk through”.
Words: Tom Dare, Local Democracy Reporter
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