This partnership project will deliver a programme of blue and green infrastructure improvements across a 55-hectare site, owned by Birmingham City Council, that stretches along the river Cole from Heybarnes Recreation Ground via Tyseley Energy Park to Ackers Adventure.
Activities will enhance habitats and biodiversity, improve the sustainability, connectivity and accessibility of the area, and increase its value and benefit as a commons space for the local community. It will also rehabilitate a currently underutilised urban, green space as an integral part of a green, active travel corridor in East Birmingham.
The project will also help bring to life Birmingham City Council’s joint vision with University of Birmingham and Tyseley Energy Park to create a Green Innovation Quarter in the Tyseley Environmental Enterprise District. As part of a programme of research and innovation activity into net-zero pathways in East Birmingham, it will also help to ensure that communities and residents benefit in real-terms from the current investment in East Birmingham.
A series of interventions will improve the river and habitat connectivity for wildlife, manage bankside trees and woodland to improve visibility and remove invasive species to restore and enhance natural capital.
A flagship intervention, delivered by Sanctus Ltd, with match funding from the Environment Agency, is the removal of a 2.6 m concrete weir in the river Cole channel alongside Ackers Adventure - a man-made structure built over 150 years ago. The removal of this significant concrete barrier will create a more resilient environment with improved ecological status and will open-up a 14 km stretch of river, allowing the watercourse channel to re-naturalise and improve habitat connectivity for aquatic wildlife.
In addition to habitat improvements a series of community spaces will be created across the project area, including community gardens and meadows, food growing areas and outdoor classrooms. These will be connected by innovative lighting solutions powered by renewable energy, improved cycle paths, and signage and wayfinding installations such as planters and art-work, co designed with the local community.
A programme of community engagement, led by the Active Wellbeing Society working with Places in Common, will run alongside habitat improvements and common space creation. The aim of the engagement is to make sure the spaces are of use and benefit to residents and communities, and there is a sense of community ownership of the changes happening in the area. The project will also establish an innovative community-led body to oversee the long-term sustainable management and maintenance of the newly-created, community owned space.