Birmingham virtual committee gives green light to new HS2 station

Birmingham City Council has granted consent for the city’s proposed High Speed Two (HS2) terminal in its first 'virtual' planning committee meeting, with officers describing the new station's design as "world class".

A visualisation of the new Curzon Street station in Birmingham. Pic: HS2 Ltd
A visualisation of the new Curzon Street station in Birmingham. Pic: HS2 Ltd

The application is for the northern terminus station of phase 1 of the high-speed line which is designed connect Birmingham to London Euston. 

The station is deemed to already have planning consent under hybrid legislation, passed in 2017, which granted approval for the entire London to west midlands phase of HS2. 

However, this deemed consent was subject to further approvals by the local planning authority, including detailed design. 

In addition to the station itself, the council granted two separate applications covering the surrounding landscaping and public realm. 

A report presented to the committee describes the design of the station by Stirling Prize-winning practice Grimshaw Architects as "truly world class" architecture. 

It says: "The elegant and (deceptively) simple form of the main station building clearly reads as a railway station and harks back to traditional station architecture, delivering this in a confident and contemporary way."

It adds that the station "does all it can to enhance connectively across this part of the city, and into Digbeth in particular".

In terms of the development's highway, nature conservation and heritage impacts, officers concluded that "these are either fully mitigated through the design, controlled through other parts of the Act or are acceptable when the planning balance is applied".

The report says the Birmingham Development Plan includes a policy stating that the station should create a "world class arrival experience with enhanced connectivity to surrounding areas including Digbeth and the neighbouring city centre". 

According to the document, campaign group the Victorian Society has objected to the proposals, with concerns including the planned demolition of the Eagle and Tun pub, which they said was a locally listed building dating to 1900. 

Elsewhere, officers described the design of one of the station’s new public squares, called Station Square, which would be at the front of the station and measures about 80m at its widest point and over 100m at its longest, as also "world class". 

Another square and a promenade, Curzon Square and Curzon Promenade, are the subject of the same application. They would be located respectively behind and alongside the new station.

The report says the new squares and station will act as a catalyst for further investment both in the surrounding Eastside area and the wider West Midlands region. 

The new terminus incorporates the Grade 1 listed entrance building of the original Victorian Curzon St station, which is the only part of the structure that survives following its closure in the 1960s. 

The "broadly rectangular" total area of the new station site covers 5.5 hectares, measuring approximately 560m in length and a maximum of 95m wide. 

The three applications were approved yesterday by the authority’s planning committee, which met remotely using online methods for the first time to meet Covid-19 social distancing guidelines.

The government introduced new rules earlier this month via the emergency Coronavirus Act to allow such meetings to take place.


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