Birmingham city centre car restrictions: where will cars be able to go?

Birmingham City Council has revealed it’s radical plans to restrict traffic in the city centre - here are the first restrictions being introduced in the next few months through the Birmingham City Centre Segments scheme

Birmingham City Centre

Motorists expecting to drive through the city centre are likely to see huge changes to road lay outs in the coming months.

Birmingham City Cabinet is set to approve council ransport plans to divide the city centre into seven Birmingham City Centre segments - with drivers unable to pass between on to the other without returning to the ring road (A4540 Middleway).

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Meanwhile buses, trams, cyclists and pedestrians will be able to move from one segment to another without using the ring road.

The aim is to reduce air pollution in the city which is held responsible for 900 deaths a year.

The segments follow areas set up to manage the Clean Air Zone. Here are a few more details on the plans work.

Where are the seven Birmingham City Centre Segments?

The city centre core - walking, cycling, public transport prioritised

Eastside - around Millennium Point and Curzon Street

Southside - China Town, Theatreland and the Gay Village

Westside - Broad Street and Brindleyplace

Convention Quarter - around the ICC

Jewellery Quarter

Knowledge Quarter - around Aston Business Park

Birmingham City Centre Segments

Will I still be able to drive through the city centre?

Car use is already set to be restricted in parts of the city centre with the cabinet due to approve plans to approve a Birmingham City Segment Scheme next week.

The council has stressed that it will remain possible to reach all areas of the city centre currently accessible by motor vehicle, but the route used to reach some places may change.

The scheme is just one part of a radical plan for transport in Birmingham city centre.

Longer-term the council is looking to introduce a series of low traffic neighbourhoods

This would see cars re-directed away from huge parts of the city centre and the A38 Queensway cut off to motorists.

Has the council tested the Birmingham City Segment Scheme to see if it can work?

Cabinet member for transport and environment Cllr Zaffar said there had been early adoption of some of the measures during the pandemic which had been “largely a success”.

He said: “I think the segments plan is one of the closest things to reality because we trialled some of that during the emergency transport plan during the pandemic.

“We know from conversations from people who walk, use public transport, that they are very supportive of the plans around the segments.

“So I think you will see over the coming months the delivery of the segments being something that is brought forward faster than some of the other big moves within the Birmingham transport plan.”

Birmingham City Council has revealed radical plans to restrict cars from driving through the city centre

So what is happening to the A38 Queensway?

As the plans were revealed reports stated that the A38 Queensway which runs through Birmingham city centre from Bristol Street to Spaghetti Junction was going to be closed.

Cllr Zaffar said: “He said: “To make it absolutely clear, there are no plans at this stage to close the A38 tunnels.

“What we have said in the transport plan and what we have always said during the consultation phase is – we have got all these major changes happening to transport in Birmingham.

“The plan sets out a massive vision, an ambitious and bold vision. We have got a motorway running right through the heart of the city through the A38.

“I think it would be rather unfair if we […] didn’t have a look at the current use of the A38 tunnels in line with our policies […].

“For that to happen, there needs to be an extensive piece of work which looks at alternative plans, which engages with key stakeholders in the city, consults with the wider public before that can be brought forward.

“So it is very, very early days with respect to the future use of the A38 tunnels and I would be surprised if we get anything around that in the coming months at the very earliest.”

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street speaks to media outside the West Midlands Combined Authority offices in Birmingham (PA/Steve Parsons)

Does the West Midlands Mayor agree with these radical transport plans for Birmingham?

West Midlands mayor Andy Street has previously said he does not agree with the idea of closing the tunnels, arguing it is important for trade between businesses north and south of the city.

But Cllr Zaffar said there was “absolutely” no chance of friction with the Mayor’s office around any potential closure of the A38 tunnels to traffic.

He said: “We work very closely with the combined authority, we work very closely with Transport for West Midlands and we also engage with the Mayor of the West Midlands – we absolutely respect his mandate.

“Any changes that we bring about – we will have the right level of engagement with the Mayor’s office, with the combined authority and with the Mayor himself.

“This isn’t about creating friction between the council’s leadership and the Mayor of the West Midlands, this is about working together to tackle the environmental challenges, to tackle the health challenges we have got in this city and to have a transport system in Birmingham that is fit for purpose.

“On a lot things we agree and on some things we don’t agree but it’s about working together to understand and bring forward plans which are reality and which are desperately needed.”

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