HS2 landscape design to restore Midlands heritage hotspot

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Landscape designs by HS2 show how an area around the River Cole in Warwickshire, identified as a Heritage Hotspot, can be transformed

Two HS2 viaducts will be constructed near Coleshill, and the landscape around them will create new public spaces with footpaths and cycleways allowing people to enjoy and better understand their local heritage.

The area has a rich history, including a medieval deer park, the Tudor Coleshill Manor and the expansive Elizabethan garden which HS2 archaeologists recently uncovered.

Natural habitats will also be created for local wildlife, and access to water will create opportunities for fishing and walks around the river.

The current viaduct designs allow for space to provide a ‘nature-led’ realignment of the river, increasing its biodiversity and to provide flood compensation areas.

Habitats and ponds will create new homes for amphibians, dragonflies, otters, great crested newts, reptiles and badgers, which will all benefit from these new ecological features.

New integrated designs for the structures include reducing the height of the western viaduct from 10m to 4m, which results in a 36% reduction in materials being used and a 26% reduction in the viaduct’s carbon footprint.

Changing the girder from concrete to steel also brings environmental benefits, including reducing the use of materials and the construction time, with 97% of the steel coming from recycled sources.

North of the viaducts, embankments around the existing Coleshill Manor will be planted with woodlands designed to complement existing vegetation. Accessible new green spaces will enrich the existing estate by taking inspiration from the parkland landscape setting of Coleshill Manor.

The design will highlight the historical and ecological make-up of the site and links between Coleshill Manor and the river.

The section of the HS2 route where the River Cole viaducts are located is known as the Delta Junction, a triangular section of line where the HS2 route curves west towards Birmingham and runs north towards Crewe and beyond.

The River Cole West and River Cole East Viaducts curve away from the northbound route, bringing HS2 passengers into the heart of Birmingham at the city’s Curzon Street Station.

The design joint venture working for Balfour Beatty VINCI JV (BBV) on these proposals consists of global consultancies Mott MacDonald and Systra together with architects Weston Williamson + Partners.

Creating the opportunity for new space

HS2’s head of landscape design, Christoph Brintrup, said: “HS2’s enhancements to the integrated design of the viaducts and landscape in this area have made the most of the rich local history and biodiversity, creating the opportunity for fantastic new spaces for people and wildlife to enjoy.

“Our multi-functional design will enhance biodiversity, provide an inclusive, healthy and accessible landscape, and also help stitch the Delta Junction into its surrounding context.

“Our design and construction approaches aim to achieve HS2’s wider environmental commitments to reduce our carbon footprint. Most of the steel used to construct the viaducts will come from recycled sources, and we’re also pleased that design improvements have resulted in a big reduction in materials used to construct the viaducts.”

Nick McGough, BBV design joint venture lead architect, added: “This is currently a complex area, with existing motorways and railway infrastructure isolating the site.

“Our design vision will use the Delta Junction as a catalyst to integrate HS2 into the landscape by creating a harmonic relationship with the railway, the site and wider landscape through local connectivity, habitat creation and biodiversity, landscape integration and flood risk mitigation.

“In the past the river had been used for pleasure boating by the Edwardians. The arrival of HS2 means the area will once again promote travel across this landscape including the installation of new footpaths and cycle ways for local people to use.”

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