Birmingham community feedback inspires design of HS2 overbridge

HS2 Ltd has revealed updated designs for the new Aston Church Road Overbridge that will span the high-speed rail line connecting Saltley, Washwood Heath and Nechells in Birmingham.

After initial designs were shared with the public in 2021, local feedback has inspired changes that will provide a wider walkway, creating enough space for cyclists, and an improved lighting strategy, making it safer and more environmentally friendly.

In response to engagement feedback, with 77% of people showing a preference for LED lighting, this has now been included in an innovative and fully integrated lighting strategy. The proposal provides increased lighting levels for pedestrians and cyclists, enhancing the user experience and level of safety whist reducing light spill to trains below. This lighting design will also protect wildlife, particularly bats that may forage underneath the bridge, by decreasing overall light pollution.

Steve Fancourt, HS2’s senior landscape design manager, said: “We want key HS2 structures like the Aston Church Overbridge to blend with the local surroundings and enhance and connect green spaces. This area of Birmingham is very urban, but we believe existing wildlife corridors, such as the Birmingham and Warwick Canal and the River Rea, can support wildlife movements and improve biodiversity.

“Our landscape design, incorporating community feedback, will also include native woodland trees such as silver birch, shrubs such as hazel and hawthorn, and wildflowers and grasses around the structure.”

Public feedback has also resulted in the stainless-steel finish being replaced with weathered steel panels incorporating a perforated pattern to maximise light and views, making the bridge feel warmer and improving the pedestrian experience. The side of the bridge has also been lowered in sections to improve views.

People were also keen to see green spaces, so this has also been addressed by creating new woodland planting in the area around the bridge, including native trees, shrubs, and species-rich grassland.

“Community feedback has been essential in developing our design for the Aston Church Road Overbridge,” said Nick McGough, lead architect for the BBV Design Joint Venture. “We have balanced challenging technical constraints in developing a robust but elegant bridge whilst seeking every opportunity to both enhance the user experience and increase biodiversity through our adjoining landscape proposals.

“Importantly, this bridge is a key element of wider enhancements which HS2 will provide in the locality, providing better pedestrian and cycle connectivity for the local community which will help support longer-term sustainable economic growth for the area.”

Aston Church Road Overbridge is located two miles north-east of Birmingham city centre. The original bridge has been demolished because extra space is needed for the HS2 line to pass through, and once built, the new bridge will connect to the existing road network.

Image credit: HS2

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