Birmingham City University is pioneering plans for a new National Park – right here in the West Midlands.
The ambitious vision to create a park which would span more than seven cities and create hundreds of miles of green space, conservation areas and new cycle routes is being led by Kathryn Moore, Professor of Landscape Architecture.
An integrated and holistic economic, social and environmental project, incorporating all of the land in the West Midlands and all aspects of land use, it is about transformation as much as conservation and preservation, working with local authorities, businesses, schools and communities to build self-confidence and a renewed identity.
Once implemented, the West Midlands National Park could join important UK national park and wilderness areas including the Yorkshire Dales, Snowdonia, the New Forest and the Peak District.
The new vision, supported by West Midlands Mayor Andy Street, chair of the Foundation Dame Fiona Reynolds and other key bodies around the region, imagines a future where an area often labelled a concrete jungle is transformed to take advantage of its historic and natural landscape.
The vision has been crafted to show the region in a different way by inverting maps, which traditionally highlight roads and building infrastructure, to instead focus on the contours of the landscape, its rivers, streams and canal networks, heritage biodiversity, identity and culture.
A West Midlands National Park could also help create new jobs across the West Midlands region and boost the economy by transforming the image of the area.
Landscape Architects working on the vision suggest once detailed case studies have been carried out, a West Midland National Park could see the area categorised as ‘a region of a thousand cycle and footpaths, a thousand parks and a thousand lakes’ featuring extensive creative hubs, fields, orchards, new forests and woodlands, hi-tech agriculture, green industries, systems of rainwater gardens and sustainable urban drainage, and increased and better connected areas of biodiversity.
Case studies are currently being undertaken on the Tame Valley, Curzon Street and Birmingham’s Commonwealth Games to decide possible revenue streams and how the vision may be realised.