31st Mar, 2020

HS2 station designs to go on show amid divided opinion

John Carlon 15th Jan, 2020

DESIGNS for the 140 acre site allocated for the HS2 Interchange are set to be displayed to residents, before they go before Solihull Council.

HS2 bosses have said they are ready to submit design elements to the borough under section 17 of the High Speed 2 Act, which allows the company to build the controversial railway between London and Birmingham.

The designs, by Arup Architects, include two 415 metre platforms and an ‘automated people mover’ to take passengers to Birmingham airport.

HS2 Ltd said: “Ahead of Schedule 17 submission to Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council, we are running a series of events to show the design that will be submitted: January 21, The Garden Room at Melbicks Garden Centre, 11am to 3pm, January 22, The Piazza (in front of halls 1 to 5), the NEC, 11am to 3pm, January 23 , Air Rail Link Concourse area, Birmingham International Railway Station, 4pm to 7pm, January 24, Touchwood Shopping Centre.”

It comes amid protests along the route from residents in Cubbington and Kenilworth in Warwickshire, and Solihull borough, where councillors have raised concerns about works disruption around Balsall Common.

Others in the borough, including politicians such as West MIdlands Mayor Andy Street, are urging the government to finally give the go-ahead for the entire HS2 phase One, to bring jobs and economic benefits.

It follows a government ordered review that was chaired by the supportive Lord Oakenbee, and criticisms from the review’s former deputy chair Lord Berkeley that the costs to taxpayers could run well over £100million.

Kim Quazi, Lead Architect at Arup, said: “Interchange station sits within a unique setting, on the edge of the urban landscape in a currently rural location. The station building has been designed to reflect its surroundings and in context with the natural landscape and topography.

“The station roof has been designed to fit in with the surrounding landscape, and to optimise natural daylight using an integrated, efficient structural form and rainwater management system. We have also focused on a number of objectives including creating a positive experience for future users and rail passengers by including open space, parkland and views to green spaces, and constructing a green building with low energy consumption and low maintenance.”

Along with the proposed designs for Birmingham Curzon Street, the Interchange plans were excoriated by West Midlands mayor Andy Street, who described them as “having all the quirkiness and charm of Stansted Airport’s baggage drop-off area.”

Stansted Airport was designed by acclaimed architect Norman Foster and won the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture – Mies van der Rohe Award in 1990.

Writing in the Times in November, Mr Street called for a renewal and ‘radical re-think’ of the project, which is predicted to cost up to £90 billion.

He wrote: “Somehow over the past ten years we have lost the grand vision of the HS2 rail project. With the stories of cost overruns and homes and businesses being bulldozed, it has become too easy to forget the positive impact HS2 will have,” as he suggested the project should be renamed to sound less ‘business-like.’

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