Today we welcome proposals unveiled by Birmingham City Council (BCC) for the creation of a new canal quarter as part of the city's vision for using HS2 as a catalyst for regeneration and growth. We have been leading the work, alongside BCC and other partners, to ensure the development of HS2 in Birmingham protects and unlocks the potential of the canal in Eastside and Digbeth.
The historic Digbeth Branch of the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal, which helped bring prosperity to the city over two hundred years ago, once again presents a significant opportunity for regeneration and a focal point to the Birmingham Curzon HS2 Masterplan area.
The canal has the potential to transform the area and create better and more attractive connections with the rest of the city. As well as being an important historic and cultural space in the city, the canal provides essential pedestrian and cycle connections between Birmingham City University, Eastside Locks and Digbeth and opportunities for visiting boats. The canal also forms an important waterway link into the city from the South, and is critical to developing sustainable use of this corridor into Birmingham.
As part of the masterplan, buildings are suggested on both sides of the canal stepping down from the street to the towpath level with new high-quality public spaces and access points, and active uses at the waterside level to animate the space. To the east of the canal there is also the opportunity to build beneath the new HS2 viaduct. There will be considerable space at this location which BCC has earmarked as ideal for student sports facilities, health club or business spaces. We hope the scheme will encourage more people to discover, use and value the canal and put it, once again, back at the heart of the city's future.
Birmingham has been shaped by its canals over the last 200 years, and in the past twenty years they have again been at the centre of its regeneration. The masterplan unveiled today by BCC presents an exciting opportunity for the creation of a new canal quarter for Birmingham and the Trust looks forward to working with BCC in this next chapter of the city's regeneration.
Richard Parry, chief executive, Canal & River Trust says: “The proposals to create a new canal quarter are a great opportunity for the Canal & River Trust and for the city and we are pleased that the Council has recognised the potential of the canal corridor. This is a creative and positive response to the challenge presented by HS2 which we believe will mean its impact can be a positive one for the canal at Curzon Street and for the people who visit and live in Birmingham.”
Peter Mathews CMG, chair of the West Midlands Waterways Partnership adds: “Birmingham's historic canal network has played a central role in the city's regeneration. HS2 provides the potential catalyst to extend that regeneration to the Eastside and Digbeth Quarters and once again, the canal corridor provides a key component of the overall regeneration plan. The potential for waterside developments, high-quality public access points to the towpath and opportunities to bring additional activity to the canal corridor set out in the council's masterplan are a welcome step.”