A Government-commissioned report has welcomed ambitious proposals to create a new urban National Park in the West Midlands region.
The interim findings of the Government’s Landscapes Review said officials would like to see ‘the encouragement of a wider range of non-designated systems of landscape protection,’ such as the vision to transform the West Midlands Combined Authority region.
The concept would create a National Park in the region spanning more than seven cities and creating hundreds of miles of green space, conservation areas and new cycle routes.
Landscape architects working on the vision suggest the West Midlands could be categorised as ‘a region of a thousand cycle and footpaths
The bold proposals have been drawn up by Kathryn Moore, Professor of Landscape Architecture at Birmingham City University.
It would reimagine what the West Midlands could become by taking a new look at the way its landscape is viewed.
Professor Moore 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.
“A West Midlands National Park would be a vehicle to help drive social, economic and environmental change in the region, profoundly changing its identity.
“It is a vision of what the West Midlands can become when the significance of its landscape is properly realised and celebrated. Above all, this proposal’s central purpose is real transformation.”
Latest developments in the proposals were showcased in front of hundreds of delegates from across the globe during the two-day ‘SATURN’ event held at Birmingham City University’s City Centre Campus (July 31 – August 1).
If delivered, a West Midlands National Park could also help create new jobs across the West Midlands region and boost the economy by transforming the image of the area.
The Government report has also been welcomed by Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street.
The Mayor, the former CEO of John Lewis, said: “The report is very positive towards the concept of a West Midlands National Park, which is a good step forward.
“Protecting and enhancing our green spaces is important for so many reasons, not least for people’s quality of life, health and well-being.
“But it can also help make the West Midlands an even more attractive place for people to visit and for businesses to invest in, helping to grow a clean economy.”
Cllr Ian Courts, the West Midlands Combined Authority’s (WMCA) portfolio lead for the environment and leader of Solihull Council, added: “We have just set new carbon reduction targets for the West Midlands to reach net-zero emissions no later than 2041. More cycle routes, forests and woodland can help us achieve that.
“This is an encouraging report and dovetails with the steps we are already taking as a region to safeguard our green spaces and tackle climate change.”
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: