McLoughlin overrules planning inspector to give Birmingham tram extension go-ahead

The Birmingham tram extension from New Street to Centenary Square has gained planning permission after transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin overruled the planning inspector’s decision.

McLoughlin said he disagreed with planning inspector’s ruling, which was made following a planning inquiry held between 19 November 2014 and 19 January 2015, that the damage the extension would cause to the city’s heritage assets would outweigh the scheme’s transportation and economic benefits.

He therefore decided to renew a 2005 order giving permission for compulsory acquisition of land between New Street Station and Centenary Square in order to construct an extension to Edgbaston.

In addition, the order authorises compulsory acquisition and purchase of land at Paradise Circus Queensway and near Centenary Square for variations to work being carried out at those sites.

Centro, the body responsible for delivering the tram extension, has already taken steps to mitigate its impact on the city’s architecture, including ordering the UK’s first battery-powered trains in order to eliminate catenaries.

The order comes as good news for Centro after it had to delay its Bull Street to Stephenson Street extension, due to open this week, over concerns about the safety of track alignment.

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Jerry Alderson   19/05/2016 at 12:57

I chatted to Cento staff last week about extension was told that decision was overdue as it was promised immediately after local elections. Glad to hear that SoS has approved it. This means construction work can begin in January 2017 as planned for opening in 2019. I was also told about track alignment problem in Stephenson Strret and that problems could be fixed quickly and it was 'unlikely' to affect 22nd May opening date. Sadly it did.

Mark Simpson   19/05/2016 at 15:32

So the government decides to override it's own independent Planning Inspectorate and decides to destroy even more of Birmingham with Centro's ludicrous Metro schemes. This following on from Centro's continuing fiascos with the Metro. The latest of which is them not being able to get a couple of hundred yards of track aligned correctly, despite having closed Corporation St for years and caused devastation to the shops there. There's city's that have completed entire Metro networks in the same time Centro has managed to build a route that was quicker to walk in the first place. And why New St to Centenary Square? So the next part of their masterplan can be enacted. To run a line up Broad St, to produce a New St to 5 Ways link that is already perfectly covered by existing rail and bus services. It would be funny if it didn't involve millions upon millions upon millions of public money.

Jake   19/05/2016 at 16:55

'Destroy even more of Birmingham'? Is this a serious comment? What is being 'Destroyed' exactly? Nothing. 'That is already perfectly covered by existing rail and bus services'? Have you ever made this journey? The Bus service runs only from Colmore Row, potentially soon to be moved even further out of the centre onto Cornwall Street, no where near New Street. Buses in Birmingham demand you pay in cash, in exact change, a fare of £2.40. Most people do not have £2.40 in exact change in their pocket, which is why very few people in Birmingham will take the bus unless it is absolutely necessary. The Metro allows Contactless swift cards to be used and on-board conductors give change - a much more user friendly system. The aim of each of these 'small' extensions is to eventually get all the way down the Hagley Road, every little helps, we would love to build the whole line in one go, but this government neglects Birmingham along with the rest of the country and transport funding just is not available.

Dave   19/05/2016 at 19:37

Jake buses accept swift cards too and your fare is 20p cheaper and no need for change at all. Just top up and use also like the metro is going to do fares within the city boundary which includes 5 ways is £1

Ian M   20/05/2016 at 22:22

Well given how long its taken from Snow Hill to get to Stephenson Street, are the bookies taking bets on the next section back round the cathedral to Snow Hill ? Never mind the extensions out of Brum as these will take decades at our rate of work, then somebody will need to order loads of new trams , please note Manchester trams now number around 120, we cannot even manage 20 !

Lesf   21/05/2016 at 23:36

Another snag with the tramline from Snow Hill to New St is that the on-street section has a small step down from the pedestrian area and the tram track (about 50mm) and there is no contrast between the tram track surface and the walkway surface. A friend fell heavily there because he didn't notice the step. That's bad, and dangerous when a tram is approaching. I told Centro and got no reply.

Mike   22/05/2016 at 10:02

The car costs millions with each car only having 1.2 passengers in each yet taking up loads of space and getting in each others ways costsing billions on pounds far more than the tax paid. The tram is the way forward, but it should have gone underground in the centre as per the original plans.Anyway the car has had its time to prove itself and failed

Dr P.N. Jarvis   22/05/2016 at 17:20

We are thankful that the Minister overruled the Inspector and allowed our construction of RhE [ Rheilffordd Eryri or Welsh Highland Railway] between Caernarfon and Porthmadog. The Inspector held that the benefits over the intervening landscape were not sufficient, but the Minister ruled that the advantages at the urban ends of the line were more than the disadvantages in the rural landscape in the middle. The line was completed and pays its way - without upsetting the livestock en route.... How very nineteenth century a conclusion; things don't change - much....

John Karban   22/05/2016 at 22:37

It seems that many Brummies still think of trams as clunky clapped-out double-deckers that rattled along the city's streets into the early 1950s. Perhaps they were at the time, but experience from countless cities around the world has shown that a modern tramway, part of an integrated transport system, brings many benefits: reduced pollution at point of use, reduced congestion, greater capacity, improved reliability (segregated trams not making congestion worse, unlike buses), greater economic activity along tram corridors, improved property values near to tram lines, etc etc. Come on, Birmingham, get with it! The city's main transport corridors are crying out for trams: the Bristol Rd, Moseley/Alcester Rd, Hagley Rd, Coventry Rd, and many more. Even France has rediscovered the tram, what's so different about Birmingham?

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