HS2 greenlights environmentally friendly road bridge on …
HS2 planners have given the green light for an environmentally friendly road bridge on the Birmingham line
Birmingham City Council has granted Schedule 17 planning approval to HS2 Ltd for the Aston Church Road Overbridge. The environmentally friendly bridge will span the rail line connecting Saltley, Washwood Heath, and Nechells in the northeast of Birmingham.
The initial bridge designs were shared with the public in 2021, and community feedback led to several improvements. These include a wider walkway to accommodate cyclists and a better lighting strategy.
LED lighting has been incorporated to provide better visibility for pedestrians and cyclists, improving safety while minimising light spillage to the trains below. This lighting design also aims to protect wildlife, such as bats, that might forage beneath the bridge.
How the public shaped the environmentally friendly road bridge
Public feedback also led to the original stainless-steel finish being replaced with weathered steel panels featuring a perforated pattern.
The designers behind HS2, a joint venture between Mott MacDonald and Systra, introduced green spaces by creating new woodland plants around the bridge area. This includes silver birch, hazel, hawthorn, as well as wildflowers and grasses, which will create habitats for wildlife.
“The bridge is a key part of the wider improvements HS2 is bringing to this area of Birmingham, providing better pedestrian and cycle connectivity for the local community, which will help support longer-term sustainable economic growth for the area,” he continued.
The Aston Church Road Overbridge is situated approximately two miles northeast of Birmingham’s city centre. The existing bridge will be demolished to make way for the HS2 line, and once constructed, the new bridge will seamlessly integrate with the existing road network.
The designs have enabled improvements to a local mosque
The realignment of Aston Church Road, combined the with new safe pedestrian crossing points, has presented an opportunity to create a new public space in front of the local mosque.
Weston Williamson + Partners worked with community members from the Masjid Ali Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat Mosque to develop designs for this area. The plans include a paved space with seating, a designated cycle crossing, and an area for ornamental shrubs and tree planting.
Work for the new bridge began last year, and primary civil construction will begin soon. The bridge and associated highway improvements are expected to be complete by the summer of 2025.
“Reflecting community feedback, our designs balance challenging technical constraints in developing a robust but elegant bridge whilst seeking every opportunity to both enhance the user experience and increase biodiversity through our adjoining landscape proposals,” said Nick McGough, director at Weston Williamson + Partners.
“The integrated bridge lighting is particularly innovative and reduces urban light pollution in a way which is sympathetic to local wildlife whilst providing enhanced light levels that will help make the bridge attractive to both pedestrians and cyclists,” he concluded.