Camp Hill Chords planning threat. Last day to make comments.

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I’ve made my comments on the planning application that could compromise the Camp Hill Chords, and so prevent frequent passenger rail services from Moseley station when it re-opens:

(See previous blog  here )

Re: Planning Application 2018/09467/PA, 193 Camp Hill, Highgate, Birmingham, B12 0JJ

Redevelopment of the site to provide 480 no. homes, a hotel (Use Class C1) and flexible business/commercial floor space of 1,480sqm (Use Classes A1, A2, A3, B1, B2, B8 and D1) in 7 new blocks (A to G) ranging from 3 to 26 storeys, together with car parking, landscaping and associated works including an energy centre of 320sqm to provide for combined heat and power and plant to serve the development

“I am writing to you on behalf of thousands of  residents in Moseley and Kings Heath who have campaigned and desired for many many years for the Camp Hill railway line to re-open to passenger services and to provide a frequent service commuter rail link into Birmingham City Centre. This topic has been number one in any political hustings for many years!  We were always told that the issue stopping it happening was the cost of building the Camp Hill chord – a link to redirect the trains to Moor Street station as New St does not have the capacity for the extra services.  In 2013 Moseley Forum was made aware that the land where a developer is now seeking this permission to build was to be sold by Birmingham City Council. They together with other community groups and local councillors objected to the sale on the grounds it could compromise the later building of the Camp Hill chord. However, Birmingham City Council in their wisdom, dismissed the need to protect the route of the link railway line stating they could ‘always compulsorily purchase it back’ at a later date.
In September 2018 Transport for West Midlands, West Midlands Rail Executive and Network Rail unveiled initial designs to rebuild  stations at Moseley, Kings Heath and Hazelwell with the expectation the line will re-open to allow two passenger services an hour into New Street station, in time for the 2022 Commonwealth Games. This news was received with enormous excitement and anticipation locally but also many calls to West Midlands Mayor, Andy Street to ensure that the construction of the Camp Hill chord would still happen, so the line will in time become a fully functional high frequency train service. He fully acknowledged this call and stated that the opening of the line earlier than expected would not stop later construction of the chords which are now referenced in the Birmingham Development Plan, the Bordesley Area Action Plan, the West Midlands Local Transport Plan, in the proposed enhancements pipeline for the London North Western route and in the long-term strategies of Midlands Connect and West Midlands Rail Executive.
Network Rail is currently carrying out development work on the Midlands Rail Hub on behalf of Midlands Connect; a Strategic Outline Business Case is due for submission to the Department for Transport by summer 2019.
The Camp Hill chord would allow up to 10 extra trains an hour in and out of Birmingham, that’s 85,000 extra seats a day. This will enable many more passengers into and out of Birmingham so easing pressure on our already congested road system and reducing vehicle emissions both in the centre and suburbs of Birmingham. The Midlands Rail Hub project  is being developed by Midlands Connect to significantly increase passenger capacity to and from Birmingham from across the Midlands and the South West. Early analysis suggests the Midlands Rail Hub could bring overall economic benefits of £649 million a year to the region and the country by 2037.
Network Rail stated in 2017 that the work that included the Camp Hill chord was worth up to £2billion of economic benefits through unlocking jobs and supporting economic growth and maximising transport connectivity.
If this planning application is approved the subsequent development has the potential to block the alignment and construction of the Camp Hill chord preventing the expansion of and long term desired frequency of rail passenger services. This would be a huge blow for the Birmingham and West Midlands community. Economic and environmental drivers will be severely and critically harmed if this planning application is allowed to go ahead in any form that prevents the city from installing the Camp Hill Chord.
On behalf of the  community of Moseley and Kings Heath I ask Birmingham City Council planning committee, when considering this application, that as a very minimum sufficient land is protected to enable the construction and accommodation of an up and down south/east railway link at Bordesley from the Camp Hill railway line, known as the Camp Hill chord.
I also urge the applicants and developers to work  with the council, with Network Rail and local rail community groups to protect the future alignments of the proposed Camp Hill chords and to  explore mutually beneficial opportunities for both developments to avoid any impediment to the chords’ future construction.
Izzy Knowles
Moseley Liberal Democrats” 

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