Park and (High Speed 2) ride

The revised Full Business Case for Eastside City Park is going to the City Council Cabinet on 14th March 2011 for approval. The park's design was approved in November 2010, City Park (central) to Eastside, with work due to start imminently in May 2011 and due for completion August 2012.

The recommended decision for the cabinet is to approve the Full Business Case (FBC) with a total budget capped at £11,772,614, which is a reduction of £1,364,238 compared to the original FBC which was £13,136,852. The FBC authorises the General Manager, Urban Design to place an order with Wates Construction (through the Birmingham Construction Partnership), up to a maximum value of £9,114,103. The reduction comes alongside a reduction of £800,000 of Town and Country Planning Act Section 106 funding which was identified from developments at Curzon Park and City Park Gate which sit in the path of the new High Speed route.

The total capital construction cost, inclusive of fees, will be capped at £11.772m, (this includes the costs for the previous lottery bid design). The total resources to finance this revised project are secured and include £7.460m of corporate resources, £4.068m of corporate prudential borrowing, £0.061m of Section 106 monies and £0.183m of AWM approved funding. The annual costs of maintenance are £0.283m per annum and will be met from the specific Eastside City Park provision of £0.300m that was included in the Long Term Financial Strategy approved by Cabinet on 24th February 2009.

The revised business case comes in the light of moves for High Speed 2 which will terminate adjacent to the park and the new Eastside Masterplan by Glenn Howells in light of the HS2 plans. Part of the revised business case sees the removal of Canalside Gardens from the boundary of the City Park as a development opportunity as a consequence of the High Speed 2 Masterplan revision. The removal of the canalside gardens will reduce the park from 8 acres to 6.75 acres and helps to reduce the budget for the park.

Alongside the City Park the council is involved with other projects aimed at encouraging developers to invest in Eastside. The following projects and their completion dates are listed below:
• Multi-storey Car Park anticipated completion April 2011
• Grosvenor Street junction anticipated completion May 2011
• Water attenuation tank anticipated completion May 2011
• Ormiston Academy anticipated completion October 2011
• Cardigan Street anticipated completion April 2013

The investment in Eastside by the City Council sits alongside a direction for the area recently undertaken by Glenn Howells following the HS2 announcement, (Masterplan for success, Kurt Jacobs, Estates Gazette). The masterplan is an £8bn project looking at the 420 acre eastside area where schemes were cancelled due to the recession and have since been revised again with the High Speed 2 route ploughing straight through the site.

"The former masterplan had nine different projects on it and a diagonal red line, representing HS2, cutting straight through most of them. However, rather than making things worse, the HS2 announcement came at the perfect time, as it allowed us to really think about how it should be included in plans.

"It's meant that the city has had to reconsider what it's doing, but Eastside gets a new station and the problems caused by it coming here are preferable to it not coming at all."

Howells' engagement in the new Masterplan is a promising opportunity for Eastside and Birmingham with Howells track record of successful design and regeneration transforming the Rotunda, Custard Factory, No.11 Brindleyplace and the new Brammall Music Hall at the University of Birmingham.

Howells is opposed to low density developments and huge car parks attached to buildings prefering instead for more modest schemes; he also has a belief that Birminghgam should be a landmark city rather than collection of landmark buildings.

His desire for the fine-grain detail and mix of uses and architecture is exactly what Birmingham needs and the fluid boundary of Eastside and Digbeth allows for the reuse of old industrial buildings with character and an interesting urban area mixed with railway bridges, viaducts, canals and the river Rea.


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