Above Image: Birmingham – Pedestrian spine running through the city. Here we see Town Hall and Chamberlain Square.. on the left is Birmingham Council House, can be seen in images below..
Birmingham: Big City Plan and Walkability
Of all the places I saw in UK, one place I could easily walk through the town and all interesting tourist sites was Birmingham. I did not need any bus or cab here. This has been achieved through a very delibrate planned development of the city to make Birmingham a Walkable City. It is part of an overall Big City Plan for Birmingham. In the past 20 years the city has created a PEDESTRIANIZED SPINE running through the city core. From the railway station, I could very easily walk to the Town Hall, Museum and Art Gallery, and City Public Library, REP Theater, International Convention Center and further down to the Canal Route and Brindley Place. It is a very enjoyable pedestrian route full of public art, parks, eating joints and other recreation areas. .
During the Second World War, the city was heavily bombarded. Its called the Birmingham Blitz – there were 365 air raid alerts and 77 actual air raids. After the war, there was widespread regeneration effort. During 1950s to early 1970s, many prominent Victorian buildings were demolished and replaced by modern concrete buildings and ring-roads, earning Birmingham the title of “Concrete Jungle” and “Britain’s Motor City”. Someone described it as “Godless, concrete urban hell”! In the 1980s, the Birmingham City Council decided to start regenerating and reshaping the city, to improve the livability of the city. In 2008, The Big City Plan was launched with extensive public consultation though website, newspaper, leaflets, conference and exhibitions. The leader of Birmingham City Council, Mike Whitby claims, “The Big City Plan is the most ambitious, far-reaching development project ever undertaken in the UK. Our aim is to create a world-class city center by planning for the next 20 years of transformation”.
One of the highlights of the Big City Plan is to create Walkability! “Improving and expanding the walking route and open space network will support our ambition for a livable and well connected city center”…. “the city center benefits from a series of distinctive public squares and civic spaces that are concentrated in the City Core along the pedestrian spine”.
So how is the progress? AMAZING!!!
My images below shows my route from the railway station, to the city’s Public Square and Town Hall, to city public library and further down to the canal route.
Birmingham – Big City Plan and Walkability
New Street Station: Gateway Plus Project..
It is part of the Big City Plan. The current station and Pallasades shopping center above it, were completed in 1967 and have become the subject of criticism for the congestion of the station and shabbiness of the shopping center and parts of the station. The redevelopment scheme to regenerate Birmingham New Street railway station is known as Gateway Plus Project. This £ 600 million Gateway Scheme will deliver bright, modern 21st century focal point for Birmingham.
Bull Ring Shopping Center:
A large part of the scheme was the redevelopment of the Bull Ring, which has been an important feature of Birmingham since the Middle Ages, when its market was first held. It has been developed into a shopping center twice, first in 1964, but its Brutalist architecture became much disliked by the public and the building was seen as a major part of Birmingham’s “concrete jungle” image. Realizing the need for major changes to the city center, an alliance of investment and development companies was formed called the Birmingham Alliance who put the finance together to design and construct the new £500 million Bull Ring shopping center, which was completed in 2003. It houses one of only four Selfridges department click here..stores and the largest Debenhams outside of London.
There are shops along this streets and this pedestrian street links the New Street Station to Briminhgam’s Victoria Square – the city center – which is now a pedestrianized public square.
Birmingham’s City Center: Victoria Square..
is now a pedestrianized public square. The square is often considered to be the center of Birmingham, and is the point from where local road sign distances are measured. It is on the main pedestrian route between the Bull Ring shopping center and Brindleyplace areas.
During the late 20th century the square was a busy traffic junction. Plans were made to pedestrianize the area and to create a public focal point. An international design competition was held for a central water feature in the square, which was won by Dhruva Mistry. Construction commenced in 1992 and was completed in 1994, when it was officially opened by Diana, Princess of Wales. During the redevelopment of the square, Iron: Man, a sculpture by Antony Gormley was installed and unveiled in 1993.
Birmingham Town Hall..
Opened in 1834 and situated in Victoria Square. Since 1996 major refurbishment has been undertaken by Wates Construction, that has brought the Town Hall back to its original glory with its 6,000-pipe organ.
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