Campaign seeks to include Meriden Gap in West Midlands national park - The Solihull Observer

Campaign seeks to include Meriden Gap in West Midlands national park

Felix Nobes 27th Jun, 2018 Updated: 27th Jun, 2018   0

A CAMPAIGN is seeking to have the Meriden Gap designated as a national park.

It would give greater protection to the huge swathe of greenbelt land which separates Coventry and Solihull towns from Birmingham.

The idea is to encompass the Meriden Gap in a new West Midlands national park, which would include other green areas such as Blythe River Valley.

The plan also includes the potential conservation of hundreds of miles of green space and creation of new cycle routes.

It was proposed by Birmingham City University professor in landscape architecture, Kathryn Moore, in response to the government’s announcement it will expand the number of national parks in Britain.

It is supported by West Midlands mayor Andy Street and Meriden MP, Dame Caroline Spelman.

Dame Caroline says she and professor Moore have been working on a plan to increase protections for the Blythe River Valley in the Meriden Gap since 2014.

The Meriden constituency, which will be the first point of call for HS2 – high speed rail – outside London, has been identified by Professor Moore as an area that could significantly benefit from this proposal.

Dame Caroline said: “I am delighted to be able to lend my support to professor Moore’s visionary proposal for a greener West Midlands.

“Over the years, areas of the West Midlands, including areas in my constituency such as Chelmsley Wood have benefited from significant investment in urban renewal and the effects on the community – including on residents’ quality of life – have been overwhelmingly positive.

“However, when we look closely at the way in which people in the city interact with the countryside, that interaction is, more generally, limited.

“In seeking to address this, professor Moore has rightly identified that the West Midlands already has access to a significant amount of natural capital, such as a wide network of natural and made-made waterways and open landscapes.

“Through this carefully considered approach and the right investment in the right places, I am certain that we can bring the beauty of the countryside into a region known around the world for its rich industrial heritage and manufacturing expertise”.

The plans were put on display in Birmingham last week as part of a Critical Artistic Thinking in Design (CATiD) Research Hub Conference.

Professor Moore, who serves on the HS2 design panel, is hoping the rail-line from London to Birmingham may be used as a catalyst for urban renewal and biodiversity enhancement.

Dame Caroline says she has also organised for professor Moore to meet the transport secretary, Chris Grayling MP, to discuss her proposal.

She said funding could come from the department for transport, the Environment Agency, Natural England, the Canal and River Trust and the Maria Nobrega Foundation.

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