West Midlands National Park plans move forward

Plans to create a West Midlands National Park have taken a step forward following a memorandum of understanding between the West Midlands Combined Authority and Birmingham City University.

The MoU formalises the WMCA’s backing for the national park, which is seen as a key component of a post-coronavirus green economic recovery in the region.

The idea for a West Midlands National Park was envisioned by Kathryn Moore, Professor of Landscape Architecture at Birmingham City University. The project seeks to establish a new kind of national park for the West Midlands. Despite being the birthplace of the industrial revolution and containing a complex infrastructure of motorways, roads and canals, the West Midlands is also home to major agricultural areas and beautiful open spaces.

The plan for the national parkcontains a variety of features to make the region a greener, healthier place in which to live and work including patterns of parks and squares that are easy and pleasant to walk through. Potential new housing developments would make the most of the beauty of the region by opening up views, horizons, and skylines and creating green spaces in the towns and cities.

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “A new type of national park in the West Midlands is an ambitious idea that will preserve and enhance the environment of our region, whilst creating a better quality of life for our citizens. These plans not only support our work to recharge and rebuild the region in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, but will also help achieve our ambitions for a greener, healthier and more inclusive region that tackles the climate emergency and reaches net zero carbon emissions by 2041.”

Moore said: “It is tremendous to have an agreement between the WMCA and the BCU WMNP Lab. The West Midlands National Park is very different from a traditional national park. We are talking about a new kind of urban national park, one that brings the experience of national parks to urban populations rather than expecting people to travel to remote places. It’s about rekindling the relationship we have with the landscape, our sense of belonging and identity our sense of pride and desire to create a better future for our children and grandchildren.

“This is precisely what we need to have at the top of our political agenda in order to deal with climate change, to give plentiful access to quality green space and nature, provide cleaner air, water, soil and fresh food and create thriving self-sufficient communities post Covid-19. It will contribute towards the West Midlands having healthy places in which to live and work and becoming the best region to live in the UK because of the quality of the environment, quality of jobs and quality of education. Essentially the WMNP is an economic, social and environmental proposition that will bring many different strategies and ambitions together to transform the region.”

It is hoped that further details of the park will be finalised in the autumn with programme plan agreed by the end of 2020.