The vision to create a National Park in the West Midlands, which would span more than seven cities and create hundreds of miles of green space, conservation areas and new cycle routes has been unveiled and would make the region home to the UK’s 16th official National Park.
An independent report entitled 'Landscapes Review' has been sent to Environment Minister Michael Gove endorsing the plans for the regional park.
Julian Glover, who lead the independent review, said support for the West Midlands scheme would back up a desire for "the encouragement of a wider range of non-designated systems of landscape protection".
The proposals have been drawn up by Kathryn Moore, Professor of Landscape Architecture at Birmingham City University, who said: “The interim findings of this report demonstrate a welcome appetite to take a different look at how we view our cities and reimagine what these spaces are, and what they could become."
“For a long time the West Midlands has been viewed as a concrete jungle and the way that we have carried out our planning and construction has fed into that but if you look at the maps in a different way, there is huge potential for this project.”
Professor Kathryn Moore
The Maria Nobrega Foundation sits on the Board of the West Midlands National Park and was invited by Professor Kathryn Moore to attend an important meeting in Birmingham to discuss the importance and future of the West Midlands landscape.
The 15 existing National Parks are in areas including the Yorkshire Dales, Snowdonia, the New Forest and the Peak District, but the new vision imagines a future where an area often labelled a concrete jungle is transformed to take advantage of its historic and natural landscape. It would reimagine what the West Midlands could become by taking a new look at the way its landscape is viewed.
The vision has already gained support from West Midlands Mayor Andy Street, Meriden MP Dame Caroline Spelman and other key bodies around the region.
The concept, which was unveiled at the Critical Artistic Thinking in Design Conference, would have the potential to support further regeneration, boost environmental conservation, improve transport link and drive inward investment and tourism into the region.
Landscape Architects working on the vision suggest once detailed case studies have been carried out, a West Midland National Park could see the area categorised as ‘a region of a thousand cycle and footpaths, a thousand parks and a thousand lakes’ featuring extensive:
New forests and woodlands
Systems of rainwater gardens and sustainable urban drainage
Increased and better connected areas of biodiversity
Engaged communities and networks working towards a new vision of what the West Midlands
Combined Authority region could become in 20 years’ time.
The vision has been crafted to show the region in a different way by inverting maps, which traditionally highlight roads and building infrastructure, to instead focus on the contours of the landscape, its rivers, streams and canal networks, heritage biodiversity, identity and culture.
Birmingham has more than 8,000 acres of green spaces and parks – more than any other city in Europe – and has more miles of canals than Venice, the days of the heavy polluting industry are gone, with a close inspection of its landscape revealing numerous areas of natural beauty.