Whitehall has welcomed proposals to create a new West Midlands urban national park that would span more than seven cities and open up hundreds of miles of green space.
The interim findings of the Government’s Landscapes Review said officials would like to see ‘the encouragement of a wider range of non-designated systems of landscape protection,’ such as the plan to build a national park in the West Midlands Combined Authority region.
The plan, which has been drawn up by Kathryn Moore, professor of landscape architecture at Birmingham City University, would see more conservation areas and new cycle routes in the West Midlands.
It would also provide more jobs and a boost to the economy.
‘The interim findings of this report demonstrate a welcome appetite to take a different look at how we view our cities and reimagine what these spaces are, and what they could become,’ said Professor Moore.
‘A West Midlands National Park would be a vehicle to help drive social, economic and environmental change in the region, profoundly changing its identity.
‘It is a vision of what the West Midlands can become when the significance of its landscape is properly realised and celebrated. Above all, this proposal’s central purpose is real transformation.’
Landscape Architects working on the scheme suggest once detailed case studies have been carried out, a West Midland National Park could see the area categorised as ‘a region of a thousand cycle and footpaths, a thousand parks and a thousand lakes’.
Responding to the Government’s interim report, the mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street commented: ‘The report is very positive towards the concept of a West Midlands National Park, which is a good step forward.
‘Protecting and enhancing our green spaces is important for so many reasons, not least for people’s quality of life, health and well-being.
‘But it can also help make the West Midlands an even more attractive place for people to visit and for businesses to invest in, helping to grow a clean economy.’
Cllr Ian Courts, the West Midlands Combined Authority’s (WMCA) portfolio lead for the environment and leader of Solihull Council, added: ‘We have just set new carbon reduction targets for the West Midlands to reach net-zero emissions no later than 2041. More cycle routes, forests and woodland can help us achieve that.
‘This is an encouraging report and dovetails with the steps we are already taking as a region to safeguard our green spaces and tackle climate change.’