Birmingham needs more green space at its heart
CityPark4Brum is a campaign group established in 2015 to lobby Birmingham City Council to create a new public park at Birmingham Smithfield. It is supported by the Greener Birmingham coalition, the Birmingham Open Spaces Forum & the Wildlife Trust for Birmingham & the Black Country. The park is also supported by proposers of the West Midlands National Park.
Birmingham Smithfield - an ideal location for a city park
Unlike many other major cities around the world, Birmingham does not have a large park at its centre. However, we now have a unique opportunity to change this. The former wholesale markets site, called Birmingham Smithfield, is next to the Bullring and less than 5 minutes' walk from New Street station. It's an ideal location for a signature green park that would truly transform the city centre. Furthermore, the site is large enough, being 17 hectares in size (about 24 football pitches), with most of it publicly owned.
Unfortunately green & public open space was not the priority in Birmingham City Council's original plans for the site, as shown in its 2016 Smithfield Masterplan. Instead, most of the site was to be built on, with much of the open space located within private residential courtyards. A small green park, included as a result of our campaign, was added but it is simply too small and not transformative. The latest plans from Lendlease show a park that is just as small, no more than half the size of Cathedral Green.
Our alternative vision for the site has a major park at the heart of a mixed use development that can still accommodate cultural attractions, markets and homes, as stipulated in the Masterplan. And importantly, our park campaign has the support of the public, with over 10,000 signatures on the petition that was submitted to the council in January 2019.
The case for urban green space
Parks improve physical & mental health
Parks improve air quality
Parks improve biodiversity
Parks bring communities together
Parks provide sites for open-air events
Parks provide the lungs and fresh air for cities. They also improve our physical & mental health (saving the NHS £millions per year) and provide sites for festivals & community events.
Green space also helps the economy; a recent report on parks in London (see link below) revealed that every £1 spent on public green space equates to £27 in value for the public.
Now it's Birmingham's turn. We have a unique chance to truly transform the city centre and produce a legacy for generations to come. And we think the tide is turning - the City of Nature plan, recently approved by BCC, clearly shows the need for more green space in the city centre.