HS2 has revealed new landscape designs showing how the area around the River Cole in Warwickshire, identified as a Heritage Hotspot, could be transformed for local people.
Two HS2 viaducts will be constructed near Coleshill, and the landscape around them will create new public spaces with footpaths and cycleways allowing people to enjoy and better understand their local heritage. The area has a rich history, including a medieval deer park, the Tudor Coleshill Manor and the expansive Elizabethan garden which HS2 archaeologists recently uncovered.
Natural habitats will also be created for local wildlife, and access to water will create opportunities for fishing and walks around the river. The current viaduct designs allow for space to provide a ‘nature-led’ realignment of the river, increasing its biodiversity and to provide flood compensation areas. Habitats and ponds will create new homes for amphibians, dragonflies, otters, great crested newts, reptiles and badgers, which will all benefit from these new ecological features.
New integrated designs for the structures include reducing the height of the western viaduct from 10m to 4m, which results in a 36% reduction in materials being used and a 26% reduction in the viaduct’s carbon footprint. Changing the girder from concrete to steel also brings environmental benefits, including reducing the use of materials and the construction time, with 97% of the steel coming from recycled sources.
North of the viaducts, embankments around the existing Coleshill Manor will be planted with woodlands designed to complement existing vegetation. Accessible new green spaces will enrich the existing estate by taking inspiration from the parkland landscape setting of Coleshill Manor. The design will highlight the historical and ecological make-up of the site and links between Coleshill Manor and the river.
Further north, at Chattle Hill near the Water Orton viaducts, there are plans for a ‘blossom walk’ to link to a new community orchard and allotment areas, along with the planting of fruit trees and herbs for foraging.
“HS2’s enhancements to the integrated design of the viaducts and landscape in this area have made the most of the rich local history and biodiversity, creating the opportunity for fantastic new spaces for people and wildlife to enjoy,” HS2’s Head of Landscape Design, Christoph Brintrup said.
The section of the HS2 route where the River Cole viaducts are located is known as the Delta Junction, a triangular section of line where the HS2 route curves west towards Birmingham and runs north towards Crewe and beyond. The River Cole West and River Cole East viaducts curve away from the northbound route, bringing HS2 passengers into the heart of Birmingham at the city’s Curzon Street Station.
The design joint venture working for Balfour Beatty Vinci JV (BBV) on these proposals consists of Mott MacDonald and Systra together with architects Weston Williamson + Partners.
HS2 invite local residents to comment on the landscape designs, with a virtual engagement event held in July.