A Birmingham campaign group has won a small victory in securing a green space in Birmingham’s £1.9bn Smithfield construction project but fear the parks limited size won’t attract visitors.
The new district, set to be located near the Bullring open markets, recently went into public consultation over proposed plans for the site, which include a green space which is less than half the size of Cathedral Green.
CityPark4Brum began in 2015, highlighting the lack of a large park in Birmingham, a mainstay of other large cities across the world such as New York’s Central Park and London’s Hyde Park.
The campaign group is affiliated and supported by the Birmingham Open Spaces Forum (BOSF), a volunteer network interested in open green spaces across Birmingham.
Over the course of seven years, the campaign has amassed over eleven thousand signatures on their petition for a large city centre park in Birmingham.
Jim Tucker, the organiser behind CityPark4Brum and their petition, is happy that recently published Smithfield plans include a green space – but says that it’s too small and disconnected.
Preliminary plans in 2015 would have seen the entire Smithfield site be a park, but the City Council updated plans later that year which added residential, retail, and leisure space to the development, with park plans gradually growing smaller as more paved areas were incorporated.
Tucker said: “It’s just too small – it’s not big enough for a global city like Birmingham. A large green space is desperately needed.”
He outlines that his, and CityPark4Brum’s vision for Smithfield’s green space is much like a university campus.
He said: “Even though the original plan was just to have a landscaped park, we still think the park can be the focal point in the multi-purpose site.
“The pandemic has taught us about the importance of green spaces, they’re good for the mental and physical wellbeing. Hopefully it’s not too contentious to say we need more green space, and I think the public’s in agreement with us on that.”
Despite consultations nearing a close, Tucker is still optimistic that the park can be scaled up.
He added: “I don’t think all’s lost. The park is there as a result of our campaign, which is great, but it just needs to be bigger and more integrated with the rest of the offerings in the rest of the site.”
With Smithfields’s public consultations set to end on the 24th of April 2022, CityPark4Brum urges locals to submit their comments on the plans before construction begins next year.