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The Cole River and surrounding area is to be transformed in a Community Commons project launched at Tyseley Energy Park.
Published today3 minute read
Birmingham Energy Institute and project partners welcomed Cllr Majid Mahmood (Birmingham City Council Cabinet Member for Environment), Adam Tranter (West Midlands Cycling and Walking Commissioner), community organizations and BEIC residents to mark the launch of the River Cole and Tyseley Energy Park – Creating a Community Common project.
Funded by the European Regional Development Fund, this collaborative project will deliver a blue and green infrastructure improvement scheme over an area stretching along the River Cole from Heybarnes Recreation Ground, via Tyseley Energy Park, to Ackers Adventure.
The planned interventions will improve habitats and biodiversity, improve the sustainability, connectivity and accessibility of the area, and create a common space for the local community. It will also rehabilitate currently underused urban green space as part of an active green travel corridor in East Birmingham.
The project is being carried out by the University of Birmingham in partnership with Birmingham City Council, the Environment Agency, the Active Wellbeing Society, Sport England and residents.
Councilor Ian Ward, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “I am delighted that Birmingham City Council is working with partners across the city to deliver this exciting project, with funding from the European Regional Development Fund. This project will see 55 hectares of underutilized green space transformed, connecting the space to the local community, creating new public space and improving access on foot and by bike. Basically, this project will help support natural habitats, helping wildlife to thrive. This project will help create a cleaner, greener and better community for the region, also helping us achieve our crucial climate goals.
The project will also help realize Birmingham City Council’s joint vision with Tyseley Energy Park and the University of Birmingham to create a green innovation district within the Tyseley Environmental Enterprise District. As part of a Net Zero Lanes business program in East Birmingham, it will help ensure that communities and residents benefit in real terms from investments in research and innovation in East Birmingham.
Another objective is to improve the connectivity of the river and habitat for wildlife, manage trees and woods along the banks to improve visibility and remove invasive species to restore and improve natural capital.
Project partners have already made progress in removing a 150-year-old concrete weir from the Cole River near Ackers Adventure. Removing this important barrier, built 150 years ago, will create a more resilient environment with better ecological status and open up a 14 km stretch of river.
Adam Noon, Catchment Coordinator at the Environment Agency, said: “The removal of this 300 tonne concrete weir will help restore the river’s natural processes and improve habitat connectivity for wildlife, especially the movement of fish and other aquatic organisms. Removal of the spillway will also remove heavily contaminated sediments that have been held in place by the spillway structure and thereby improve water quality downstream.
In addition to the habitat improvements, a series of community spaces will be created in the project area, including community gardens and grasslands, food growing areas and outdoor classrooms. These will be linked by innovative lighting solutions powered by renewable energy, improved cycle paths and signage and wayfinding facilities such as planters and artwork, co-designed with the local community.
Trudi Else, Strategy Manager, Place, at Sport England, said: “We are delighted to be working with the University of Birmingham on this innovative wayfinding project which will be co-created with the community, testing lighting schemes from guidance to provide an Active Environment to foster local activity.
A community engagement program, led by the Active Wellbeing Society in conjunction with Places in Common, will run alongside home improvements and the creation of common spaces to ensure spaces are useful and beneficial to residents and communities, and that there is a sense of community. changes taking place in the region.
The Active Wellbeing Society said, “We look forward to working with partners and communities to repurpose the River Cole Valley project area as a community commons, increasing access to currently underutilized urban green spaces and ensuring the impacts of the wider program are maximized for surrounding communities.
The project will also establish an innovative community body to oversee the long-term sustainable management and maintenance of the newly created community space.
Dr Emily Prestwood, Development Manager, Birmingham Energy Institute, University of Birmingham, said: “We are proud to deliver this project with our partners and to be part of a program having a direct positive impact on natural habitats, green spaces, community assets and local residents of East Birmingham.