Calls to make West Midlands an urban national park

The birthplace of the industrial revolution may seem like an unlikely location for a National Park, but the region is also home to major agricultural areas and beautiful open spaces.

Pictured: Rural West Midlands countryside.

Plans to create a West Midlands National Park have taken a step forward after the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) signed an agreement with Birmingham City University.

The agreement formalises the WMCA’s backing for the national park, which is seen as a key component of a post-COVID green economic recovery, and forms part of the region’s zero-carbon strategy.

The idea for a West Midlands National Park (WMNP) was envisioned by Kathryn Moore, Professor of Landscape Architecture, who seeks to establish a new kind of national park for the West Midlands.

Despite being the birthplace of the industrial revolution and containing a complex infrastructure of motorways and roads, the West Midlands is also home to canals, major agricultural areas and beautiful open spaces.

The plan for the national park includes the whole of the WMCA territory, stretching from the Black Country to the Blythe and Tame Valley in the East, from Wolverhampton, Walsall, Sandwell and Dudley, to Birmingham, with Solihull and Coventry in the south.

The plan contains a variety of features to make the region a greener, healthier place in which to live and work including patterns of parks and squares that are easy and pleasant to walk through.

Potential new housing developments would make the most of the beauty of the region by opening up views, horizons, and skylines and creating green spaces in the towns and cities.

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, commented: “A new type of national park in the West Midlands is an ambitious idea that will preserve and enhance the environment of our region, whilst creating a better quality of life for our citizens.

“These plans not only support our work to recharge and rebuild the region in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, but will also help achieve our ambitions for a greener, healthier and more inclusive region that tackles the climate emergency and reaches net-zero carbon emissions by 2041.”

Prof. Moore added: “It is tremendous to have an agreement between the WMCA and BCU.

“The West Midlands National Park is very different from a traditional national park. We are talking about a new kind of urban national park, one that brings the experience of national parks to urban populations rather than expecting people to travel to remote places.

“It will contribute towards the West Midlands having healthy places in which to live and work and becoming the best region to live in the UK because of the quality of the environment, quality of jobs and quality of education.”

It is hoped that further details of the park will be finalised in the autumn with a programme plan agreed by the end of 2020.