I mention in the last post about Britain and its politicians general lack of forward thinking and here in this post I’ll try and explain exactly what I mean. Birmingham, Britain’s second city has seen over the last 90 years many changes, yet after major redevelopments can anyone really say these were for the better ?
Birmingham suffered heavy bomb damage during World War II’s “Birmingham Blitz”. The city was then extensively redeveloped during the 1950s and 1960s.This included the construction of large tower block estates, such as Castle Vale. The Bull Ring was reconstructed and New Street station was redeveloped.
City planners during this time passed any plans for modernisation regardless whether or not it changed the character of the city centre or not. During this time Birmingham became a enormous concrete jungle as fine Victorian character architecture was swept away. Much the same happened in London as grand houses were demolished and replaced by concrete monstrosity which now are being replaced once again after little over 80 years.
In the decades following World War II, the ethnic makeup of Birmingham changed significantly, as it received waves of immigration from the Commonwealth of Nations and beyond.The city’s population peaked in 1951 at 1,113,000 residents.Birmingham remained by far Britain’s most prosperous provincial city as late as the 1970s,with household incomes exceeding even those of London and the South East, but its economic diversity and capacity for regeneration declined in the decades that followed World War II as Central Government sought to restrict the city’s growth and disperse industry and population to the stagnating areas of Scotland, Wales and Northern England.
These measures hindered “the natural self-regeneration of businesses in Birmingham, leaving it top-heavy with the old and infirm”,and the city became increasingly dependent on the motor industry. The recession of the early 1980s saw Birmingham’s economy collapse, with unprecedented levels of unemployment and outbreaks of social unrest in inner-city districts.
In recent years, many parts of Birmingham has been transformed, with the redevelopment of the Bullring Shopping Centre and regeneration of old industrial areas such as Brindleyplace, The Mailbox and the International Convention Centre. Old streets, buildings and canals have been restored, the pedestrian subways have been removed and the Inner Ring Road has been rationalised.
The Gateway Plus (previously known as Birmingham Gateway) project is a redevelopment scheme to regenerate Birmingham New Street railway station and the Pallasades Shopping Centre above it. It will finish in September 2015. The project aims to enhance the station to cope with increased passenger numbers as well as expected future growth in traffic, but will not alter the train capacity of the station. In 2008, the station handled passenger numbers far in excess of the capacity of its existing design. The current station and Pallasades shopping centre were completed in 1967 and have become the subject of criticism for the congestion of the station and shabbiness of the shopping centre and parts of the station.
The Birmingham Mail reported recently about the start of the long-delayed £400 million Birmingham city centre scheme. “The demolition of a multi-storey car park at the corner of Holliday Street and Bridge Street was the first step towards the construction of a 210-bedroom Holiday Inn Express, which will form part of the 2.3 million sq ft Arena Central mixed use development.”…..”Once completed the 14-storey hotel, which will include an atrium link to the adjacent Crowne Plaza Hotel, will back onto Arena Square, a key part of the office-led development.” …”Arena Central is a joint venture between Miller Developments, who acquired the former Carlton Television studios in 2001, and Andy Ruhan’s Bridgehouse Capital, originally announced in March 2004.”
It looks grand in the artist impressions but how long will it be before it is redeveloped once again ? Buildings if the are maintained properly can last around 150-200 years and can be converted to many different uses. If planners plan for the future and politicians governed in a way sympathetically in keeping and not wasting Britain’s wealth would increase and we would not have to keep borrowing so much.