Public to get chance to give input on Birmingham design

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Members of the public will get a chance to give their input in the future of Birmingham from next month.

A 10-week consultation period on the ‘Birmingham Design Guide’ begins in November and runs until February next year.

The aim of the document is to support ‘good place making’; bringing together elements key to make good places, such as buildings, spaces, movement and uses.

Birmingham Design Guide Overview October 2020
The ‘Birmingham Design Guide’ will be available for public consultation next month.

Five key themes are outlined in the guide including streets and spaces; landscape and general infrastructure, healthy living and working place; efficient and future ready; and Birmingham ID.

Each theme aims to give greater support information and detail on what’s needed in order to comply with planning policy in each of those areas.

‘Green thinking’ through development of low carbon initiatives and other energy efficient methods is central to the report.

Encouragement is key

Birmingham City Council’s principal urban designer Kevan Spink said encouragement is key to implementing efficient and future ready initiatives.

“This theme uses the word ‘encourages’ quite a lot, because in terms of planning policy there are some aspects where we do need to encourage, because we haven’t the statutory powers to make those things happen.

“We try to push beyond building regulations at the moment, in terms of low-energy buildings for example. 

“But there are examples included in here to try and help developers to deliver that type of building, and also to make their buildings as flexible and adaptable as possible, so they can change as market requirements or user needs develop over time.”

Issues relating to active travel and public transport; creating safe and inviting spaces for people; anti-terror measures; transport needs for disabled people; cycle, motorcycle and car, parking and infrastructure; are among the items also included.

Spink said this reflects the wide usage surrounding streetscapes.

“What we are trying to emphasise here is that streets are multi-functional places.

“Obviously they have a transport role, but also that they are a key part of the public realm and they need to be active and inviting places where people want to be.

“Primarily they want to be walking and cycling so far as is possible, and part of this is creating the type of environment that will allow those types of uses to happen.”

Landscaping in new development, public open spaces; and biodiversity and geodiversity are among the items also addressed in the plan. 

The biggest section in the document relates to healthy, living and working places, and outlines principles related to buildings and their occupants and uses.

This includes residential, tall building and high density developments; along with non-residential uses, signage, advertising and telecommunications infrastructure.

Birmingham’s historic assets and development adjacent to water assets are also considered. 

Councillors briefed

Councillors on the Birmingham City Council (BCC) Planning Committee were briefed yesterday on the proposals.

Spink told the committee that the document “will be important for developers to inform their design of their schemes” and also for planning officers and members of the planning committee.

The previous review took place in 2017, with a vision document published at the end of that year.

Subsequently BCC received 36 submissions of feedback from the public.

Following consultations, it is expected that the latest plan will be ready for cabinet approval and adoption in Summer next year.

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