HS2’s Solihull Interchange station gains planning approval
After achieving the BREEAM ‘Outstanding’ certification at the design stage, the development of HS2’s Interchange station in Solihull can now progress following gaining planning approval.
Credit: HS2 Ltd - Digital concept of an aerial view of the Interchange station.
HS2’s new eco-friendly landmark Interchange station, set to be built in Solihull, has been praised for its green credentials as Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council approved the design on 26 August 2020.
The planning application for the station and the surrounding landscape and public realm, along with the automated people mover, were approved by the Council, with the planner’s report saying that the design creates “an exciting contextual response to its setting.”
The station, which will be at the heart of the HS2 network in the Midlands, recently became the first railway station in the world to achieve the BREEAM ‘Outstanding’ certification at the design stage – a measure of sustainability for new and refurbished buildings – putting it in the top one per cent of buildings in the UK for eco-friendly credentials.
The Council’s planning team said that the design of the station “draws upon the historic and agricultural character of the local area and delivers a strong sense of place and identity through its architectural form and the design of its landscape.”
The station’s design makes use of renewable technologies and, in operation, the station will use natural ventilation, daylight, harvested rainwater and solar energy to cut carbon. The automated people mover will link to the NEC, Birmingham International Station and Birmingham Airport, carrying up to 2,100 passengers per hour in each direction, with a service every three minutes along a 2.3km route.
HS2’s Stations Director, Matthew Botelle, said: “We’re extremely pleased to receive approval for the design of Interchange station, which will be net-zero carbon in operation, and adopts the latest eco-friendly design and sustainable technologies. The operation of our stations will play a key role in the UK’s fight against climate change and achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.”
He continued: “Our architects and engineers have worked together with landscape architects, soil scientists, ecologists and water specialists to develop a truly unique, landscape-led, contextual proposition which draws on the local Arden setting for its inspiration, with lots of new habitats for wildlife. We have also worked with our local stakeholders to design a station that considers future major growth plans around the site. These are being led by the Urban Growth Company (UGC) and will support 70,000 new and existing jobs, 5,000 new homes and 650,000m2 of commercial space across the UK Central Hub, generating £6.2 billion GVA per year and bringing 1.3 million people to within a 45-minute public transport commute of the station.”
Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “HS2 has got a critical role to play in the West Midlands’ economic recovery by driving investment and helping to provide tens of thousands of jobs. I am, therefore, delighted that just weeks after we saw the bridge installed over the M42, the project has taken another step forward with the approval of the plans for the Interchange station. Given the climate emergency that the West Midlands is facing, it is also great to see how eco-friendly these plans are.”
“It is brilliant news that the Interchange plans have been approved by Solihull Council, and I look forward to working with both the Council and HS2 Ltd to make sure we maximise the potential of this site. I am particularly keen to see the parking provision around the station become multi-storey to help free up critical housing and commercial land,” he added.
HS2’s design consultants, ARUP Architects, have worked closely with their landscape architects, Churchman Thornhill Finch, to develop a design which celebrates the local context and biodiversity of its native landscape associated with the Forest of Arden.
Through HS2’s broader landscape design and ecology work, vast amounts of information on local habitats have been gathered and overlaid with data from National Forestry and Ancient Woodland inventories. This has enabled a planting strategy which reflects a changing palette of woodland types, hedgerows and wildlife habitats. It includes plant species that are not only responsive to climate change, but also to the local geology, hydrology, soil structure and landscape character alongside the railway.
Next steps include continuing to work with SMBC and stakeholders on maximising the development opportunities around the site, awarding the construction partner contract in 2022 and construction is planned to start in 2024.