UNIVERSITY NEWS LAST UPDATED : 16 MARCH 2016
Landscape improvements and green city spaces are vital if the West Midlands is to unlock millions in potential investment made possible by projects like high speed rail, a leading architectural expert has said.
Kathryn Moore, Professor of Landscape Architecture at Birmingham City University, believes the region needs ‘a strong and clear spatial vision’ to support continued economic growth, make the area attractive for visitors and ensure more people stay in the conurbation.
Professor Moore said steps to preserve and improve the West Midlands’ unique landscape, such as restoring the historic valleys which run through its heart and creating a raft of new public spaces in urban areas, would also make the most of major infrastructure projects like high speed rail.
The Eastside of Birmingham’s city centre has already attracted more than £132 million of investment since the creation of Eastside City Park in 2013 - highlighting the investment potential that can follow the creation of a quality public realm.
Professor Moore has been working to help people see the region in a different light and throw off dated preconceptions about its cities.
She said HS2 would provide a unique opportunity to reinvent the West Midlands.
“The infrastructure that runs through parts of Birmingham, fractures the city, limiting access to educational and employment opportunities.
"The long term cost of actually making that situation worse must be taken into account in how we deliver HS2 in the region. We need to think of how high speed rail can actually improve things rather than make them worse.”
Professor Moore serves on the HS2 Independent Design Panel as well as being President of the International Federation of Landscape Architects.
She was speaking during an event called Design and the Midlands Engine – Big Midlands Meet, aimed at boosting the regional economy through design and architecture.
The event was organised by The Place Alliance, MADE: Design West Midlands, Royal Town Planning Institute West Midlands, Landscape Institute Midlands and the Royal Institute of British Architects.
Professor Moore added that planning too often overlooked an area’s unique history and identity which was crucial to securing a city’s long term future.
She said: “We no longer recognise the pivotal role that landscape plays in shaping identity, culture, self-confidence and worth in everyday life.
“We need a strong, clear identity for the region and that includes replenishing the valley system. We need to be investing in the future so that people, their children and their grandchildren choose to stay here because of the high quality of life, employment and educational opportunities.
“Birmingham used to be known as the city of 1,000 trades, why can’t we be the city of 1,000 parks and squares?”