Revealed: Birmingham City Council transport plans to restrict cars driving through the city centre

Birmingham City Council is planning to create  low traffic neighbourhoods with cars re-directed away from huge parts of the city centre and the A38 Queensway cut off to motorists

A plan to block traffic from using the A38 Queensway tunnel and divert them onto Birmingham’s ring road is among huge plans being pushed forward by Birmingham city centre.

Plans to restrict motor traffic through Birmingham city centre are set to be approved by Birmingham City Council next week - with longer term schemes which could see the through-city motorway shut included in draft proposals.

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The huge changes have been outlined in the Birmingham transport plan with a Birmingham City Centre Segment Scheme set to be approved by the city council next week.

Longer term plans could see low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) or, traffic cells - as the council refers to them introduced to the city centre.

These longer term plans include proposals to stop cars using the A38 Queensway tunnel to divert them onto Birmingham’s ring road in a bid to tackle poor air quality in the city and boost healther forms of travel.

The road – one of the busiest through the centre of the city – could then be used for green spaces as well as cycling and walking, according to a report.

Friends of the Earth have stated a site at St Chad’s Queensway along the route was the most polluted point in the city in 2018 at 74 micrograms of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) per cubic metre.

The transport plan states air pollution in the West Midlands “affects approximately 2.8 million people, reducing average life expectancy by up to six months”.

It has previously been stated poor air quality in the city is responsible for 900 deaths per year.

Birmingham City Council is looking at plans to create low traffic neighbourhoods in the city centre which could see the A38 Queensway blocked to motorists

10 of the biggest ways travel in the city could be altered as a result of the new city council policies

1) Driving through the city centre will be restricted

Birmingham City Council wants to introduce a segment scheme for the city centre which will restrict private car trips between segments and the centre itself.

Instead, vehicles will be redirected onto the A4540 ring road, with public transport, walking and cycling boosted in the city centre.

2) Potentially no more driving through the A38 Queensway

The A38 Queensway could be blocked to cars which would be diverted to the ring road, according to an idea mooted in the transport plan.

This would mean the route – one of the busiest through the city centre – could be given over to green space and walking and cycling routes.

3) Snow Hill and Moor Street stations could have extra capacity

Snow Hill and Moor Street stations are intended to be “re-modelled” with extra capacity, with links “taking passengers directly to” the upcoming Curzon Street HS2 station.

4) Areas of the city centre could be pedestrianised

The plan sets out an aspiration for improved cycling and walking routes and street pedestrianisations as well as “improved wayfinding” to public transport hubs across the city centre.

Birmingham City Council plans to create low traffic neighbourhoods in the city centre which would see the A38 Queensway closed to motorists

5) More car parks could be turned into housing

The document states more housing could be created in the city centre “through the promotion of development opportunities from repurposing car parks” owned by the city council.

6) 20 mph will be the new default

Residential streets across the city are set to become 20mph by default, while 30mph will remain for “strategic and distributor roads”.

7) Roads around schools are intended to become safer

Measures are planned to restrict car speed and access and manage parking around schools as well as to encourage cycling and walking for pupils.

8) No more pavement parking

The plan includes the “removal of footway parking” – a matter currently being reviewed by the Government.

9) Employers could be charged for each parking space they provide

The council intends to look into the possibility of introducing a Workplace Parking Levy (WPL) which would charge employers an annual fee for each workplace parking space they provide.

Money raised could go into funding for the East Birmingham Metro Extension, pedestrianisation of the city centre, A38 Queensway changes, investment in public transport as well as cycle routes and canal towpath improvements.

10) Removal of free parking in the city centre and elsewhere

There are plans to extend controlled parking zones to remove free car parking from “within the A4540 Ring Road, from neighbourhoods on the outskirts of the city centre, and from local centres”.

What the planners say:

The document now set to be adopted states: “Different options for the central section of the A38 Queensway will be considered.

“This might include rerouting traffic to an upgraded A4540 Ring Road, meaning that vehicles on journeys currently passing through the centre of Birmingham will be diverted.”

It states the measure would stop the A38 acting as a “restrictive barrier segregating areas of the city centre and restricting growth”.

It adds the measure would allow for the “freeing up” of the route enabling a “the creation of green spaces and active travel and public transport infrastructure”.

The area inside the A4540 ring road – the same space as the Clean Air Zone – is now intended to be split into seven segments, with the document committing to bring about “full delivery” of the idea.

Are there any objections?

Mayor Andy Street has previously said he is not in favour of the idea to close off the A38 tunnels, saying trade between the north and south of the city – or “indeed between Lichfield and Bromsgrove” – is “really important”.

Click here - Birmingham City Transport plan to read the full report

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