I asked the people of Birmingham what they thought of city centre regeneration & what they would like to see
Victoria Square, Colmore Row and Waterloo Street are being repaved over the coming months.
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Regeneration work here in Birmingham City Centre has resumed.
Repaving is taking place in Victoria Square, Colmore Row and Waterloo Street over the coming months.
After a year where these spots have been home to so much attention with the Commonwealth Games and the German Christmas Market, how do people feel about the disruptions and does this mark the end of such spectacles?
The current repaving work in Victoria Square, Colmore Row and Waterloo Street is part of a multi-million pound restoration of Birmingham City Centre. A total of £5 million of government funding and £20.478m of corporate money was agreed for the project back in February 2022.
Works on improving public spaces in the city began prior to the Commonwealth Games last summer. It has been nearly 30 years since any significant improvements were made to the city centre’s public spaces.
The current wave of works will be improving pedestrian areas and widening pavements which the council say will help the retail and hospitality sectors.
Aside from this and work on the Floozie in the Jacuzzi (official name The River), permanent security measures will be installed to replace the temporary ones we’ve seen the past few years.
A key focus is improving pedestrian areas and widening pavements which chiefs hope will have the knock on impact of contributing to retail and hospitality recovery.
The works will be carried out in two phases: the first phase will see permanent security measures installed at multiple locations as part of a comprehensive safety and security strategy for the city centre which will replace existing temporary measures.
It will also include improvements to Victoria Square and the River fountain – known as the Floozie in the Jacuzzi. The second phase will see the pedestrianisation of the end of Colmore Row, near Victoria Square, to Newhall Street, and Waterloo Street to Bennetts Hill, with these works set to be completed by mid-2024.
Birmingham City Council’s goal is to rejuvenate business and retail quarters to encourage economic growth and visitors from out of town.
Here’s what the people of Birmingham told me when I asked them about the regeneration and which areas of the city they would like to see get attention.
David says: “Yeah, I find it disruptive. I don’t like seeing it because it’s something that’s fairly frequent in Birmingham. As for whether this is what you would expect, after all the things that have been set up in the past year?
“Well, I suppose it is what you would expect, but then I wouldn’t necessarily agree with the things that have been set up over the past year.
“You know, in regard to well, for instance, Christmas Market, which I find highly annoying, and then a few other things that have been sort of placed here. I mean, to be perfectly honest, it’s almost like, you know, nothing’s ever quiet. Things are either being set up or tidied up. It really gets on my nerves.”
David adds: “A bit more peace and quiet. I mean, for instance, this area leading up to the installation - or the imposition - of the Christmas market.
“This area at lunchtime was a focal point for people to come and eat their lunch. There were seats around in the summer, obviously, that might not be so good at this time of year because of the rain and things like that, but you could actually sit on the stone benches and things like that.
“The minute the Christmas market came along, there was no place to sit apart from the Christmas market if you wanted to join that.”
Sylvi says: “Personally no, to be honest, I haven’t really got anything more to add really. I feel like, it’s not disruptive to me anyway. I know it might be disruptive to some other people but not to me, no. Not personally.
“I think Birmingham has been really lucky to have the Commonwealth Games which was brilliant. To be honest, that’s why I actually moved to Birmingham, that kind of made me move Birmingham in the first place. That’s what kind of tipped it over the edge for me.
“So the Commonwealth game was great. Obviously the Christmas fair every year is one of the best in the country. I know it’s January now and it’s a bit depressing with yhe work is happening now. But it’s been a great year in Birmingham and I don’t personally feel like the afterglow of the Commonwealth Games has left Birmingham personally.”
Cllr Ian Ward, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “Our city centre welcomes more than 42 million people a year and following the regeneration of Centenary Square and Paradise, it’s time for the business and retail areas to be revitalised.
“Improving public spaces in the city centre will enable us to offer a world-class welcome to our visitors and will also support the economic recovery for businesses impacted by the Covid pandemic by creating more space to enjoy outdoor hospitality.”