Special Report of Session 2016-17 Contents

Chapter 4: Staffordshire to Oxfordshire

Birmingham, Staffordshire, Solihull

95.Once the first phase of the project is in operation, the main destination for travellers from Euston will be the new station to be built at Curzon Street, Birmingham (the terminus of the original London to Birmingham Railway which began operating from Euston in 1837). That is an appropriate point at which to begin a brief survey which first moves north to Staffordshire and then follows the line of route in a south-easterly direction.

96.There were few petitions relating to central Birmingham or to the area of the rolling stock maintenance depot to be built (with associated regeneration) at Washwood Heath, to the east of central Birmingham. But there were two weighty petitions which we heard near the end of our sittings. One, concerned with a site at Washwood Heath, is considered in Appendix 7. The other concerned part of a site of the new Curzon Street Station. Most of the other problems in these districts seem to have been resolved at an early stage.

97.Quintain City Park Birmingham Ltd (petition no. 405) is an experienced developer which has a long lease of a development site in central Birmingham, the landlord being the city council. There is outline planning permission for a mixed development of offices, flats and a hotel. The site (at present used as a car park) covers part of the land on which the new Curzon Street station is to be built. Quintain wishes to participate in the development of the part of the station devoted to non-railway use. The eminent architect, Sir Terry Farrell, gave evidence and showed us a preliminary design for two towers at the corners of what will be the west front of the station, rising 36 floors above the level of the station roof, and containing offices, flats and a hotel.

98.Sir Terry emphasised the importance of a unified design for the new station and its immediate surroundings, and we concur in that. But we cannot agree that Quintain’s leasehold interest in a relatively small part of the site (for which it will receive full compensation) entitles it to participate in the new development. On the contrary, it would be likely to make it more difficult to achieve the aim of a unified design. We would, however, encourage Quintain to compete in the pending design process.

99.Water Orton was an outlying village which is now almost part of suburban Birmingham and it is in a sensitive position close to the “delta” of lines to the east of the city. The relocation of its school was agreed in the House of Commons. Before us, the parish council obtained further reassurance about tree planting and use of the haul road (which will not however be suitable for all types of construction traffic).

100.There were also relatively few petitions from Staffordshire, and some of those that were presented were premature in that they related to the second (2a) phase of the HS2 project (in one such case of acquisition of most of a farm we were able to ensure that the petitioner knew about his rights in respect of safeguarded land). Most of the petitions in this county related to the Kingsbury railhead, a complex development which is going to be used for both phases. Mr Reddy and his family (see paragraph 56 above) are one group of landowners most affected in this area.

101.Further north, near Lichfield, Mr McMahon owns Horsley Brook Farm. His life and livelihood are profoundly affected by the first phase of the project, as set out in paragraphs 53–55 above. Near Tamworth, Aston Villa Football Club have a large training ground with state-of the-art training pitches and facilities. Our conclusion on their petition, which had to be adjourned, is in Appendix 7. The future of the Grimstock Hotel (mentioned in the Second Special Report of the House of Commons Select Committee at paragraph 58) was eventually agreed, but only after long delay.

102.The Coleshill Estate is a largely agricultural estate, which has been in the ownership of the Wingfield-Digby family since the end of the fifteenth century. Its position in a natural transport corridor between Coleshill and Chelmsley Wood has led to earlier acquisitions of land for motorways. Our conclusion on their petition is at paragraphs 60–63 above.

103.A short way to the south is Hampton-in-Arden. Petitions were presented by its parish council and others, raising issues which had already been considered by the Select Committee in the House of Commons (paragraphs 63–66 of their Second Special Report). The principal issue was the future of a road known as Diddington Lane (paragraph 64 above).


104.The line of route then passes between Balsall Common to the west and Berkswell to the east. We heard several petitions relating to this area. Several petitioners referred to the importance of the Kenilworth Greenway. We share their view that it is a most important local amenity enjoyed by walkers, cyclists and equestrians. We consider, however, that the promoter’s proposals offer a satisfactory solution to a difficult problem, which was also raised by petitioners from Burton Green.

105.Burton Green is a little further south and one of the villages most directly affected by the project. The line of route bisects the village and the railway will pass through a cut-and-cover tunnel about 900m long. Its length was extended by AP2, which was bought forward in July 2015. The tunnel will provide noise protection to most of the houses in the village, especially those grouped on either side of Cromwell Lane, which is almost at a right angle to the line of route. We had several petitions from other villagers, especially residents of Hodgett’s Lane and Red Lane, and also from the trustees of the village hall, which is to be relocated (see paragraphs 65–69 above).


106.At Chipping Warden we were seriously concerned about the position of Mr Banister, who has over the years built up a large and successful farming business (paragraphs 70–72 above). But we were not persuaded by other issues raised on behalf of Chipping Warden, especially as the promoter is making a substantial contribution to road realignment benefiting the village. At Lower Thorpe, a tiny hamlet north-east of Thorpe Mandeville, the small community will be virtually destroyed by the construction of the Lower Thorpe viaduct. The situation of Mr and Mrs Raitt, who now appear to be the only inhabitants left, is truly exceptional and calls for special treatment (paragraphs 73–74 above).

107.The village of Radstone, a short way north of Brackley, will be seriously affected. Most of the residents’ concerns, however, were met in the House of Commons (Second Special Report, paragraph 82) and the petition of the Radstone Residents’ Group was withdrawn. There were two petitions to our Committee. Both were focused on the Need to Sell Scheme, and the application of Mrs Herring, the only individual petitioner, had been accepted by the time her petition was heard.

108.Some petitioners objected to what they thought would be the intrusiveness of the Wormleighton maintenance loops. The railway will at this point be twice its normal width, but the loops will be used largely as an area where trains used for track maintenance can be kept, and the loops will be at a low level and well protected.

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