Sutton Park Games development sparks row

The existing car park area near the Miller & Carte restaurant, with Powell’s Pool in the back ground. Picture: Birmingham City Council
Mixed reaction for Triathlon car park development

Plans for a £770k development in Sutton Park to support next year’s Commonwealth Games have received a mixed reaction from Sutton Coldfield people.

Sutton Park was chosen as the venue for the triathlon and para-triathlon events, which takes place on July 29 and 31, 2022. It provides the perfect setting, with Powell’s Pool, the park and the local roads, to accommodate all three disciplines of a triathlon event (swimming, cycling and running). The area has already successfully hosted Birmingham Triathlon events over the last few years.

The plans will be part of the Birmingham Commonwealth Games legacy and includes £528,000 spent on the revamped car park, in an area next to the Miller & Carter restaurant.
The plans gained general approval at a series of consultations, but some residents are up in arms with one describing it as a ‘white elephant’ and a further erosion of the park’s natural beauty.

But a former local independent councillor says the proposals will be good for the park and criticised local Conservative town councillors on the planning and highways committee for voting against the plan.

Former Vesey independent Paul Long said on the Boldmere Community Facebook page: ” So what happens if BCC (Birmingham City Council) listen to this objection? It puts at risk the triathlon taking place for the CWG2022 because there will not be the facilities to support it – facilities that will also provide a long-lasting legacy. What should the Town Council have done? They should have spoken to residents in Vesey ward and attended the Vesey Ward Forum meeting.”

To meet Birmingham 2022’s requirements, the venue at Boldmere Gate will be required to  provide a sufficient surface area to allow the installation of the athlete’s zone and media areas.

To achieve this, the existing hardstanding car parking surface area will be upgraded to provide a suitable surface area for the transition area and athletes’ zone.

The improvements to the car park will result in an improved permanent car park area for the benefit of visitors post-Games, as well as legacy benefits including an all-year car park and an improved ability to host future events.

The existing car park will expand from 125 to 221 spaces, a gain of 96, including 12 new disabled spaces and five for cycles, allowing the existing overspill car park further in the park would be reverted to Site of Special Scientific Interest habitat.

But local resident David Carter, who lives on nearby Monmouth Drive, said the proposals would damage the nature of the park.

He said: “The last thing we need here is more parking, causing traffic chaos around Boldmere Gate and back into Monmouth Drive. It will also have a detrimental effect on the beauty of the park. We already seen how the park has been badly affected during lockdown with thousands more people leaving tons of litter behind them.

“It seems unnecessary for such disruption for what is essentially a one-off event. A bit of a white elephant really.”

The designs will provide benefits for the Games and legacy by: improving and expanding the existing hardstanding area (athletes’ zone and media areas); the introduction of another entrance/exit point to the car park, which means traffic can access the car park without crossing event routes; improved accessibility for visitors through the provision of formal disabled parking bays and  the installation of cabling and connections for upgraded electricity provision.

A consultation process  with the city council found general approval of the plans with 62 per cent of those who participated rating the proposals as either ‘good’ or ‘very good’ with a further 20 per cent rating them as ‘average’.

A local consultation by Birmingham City Council saw a wide range  of suggestions for other improvements that resident would like to see at Boldmere Gate, including toilet facilities, a community café or bistro, children’s play area and even electric car charging points.

Presentation was made to attendees the Sutton Vesey Ward Forum on December 3 2020, which numbered 84 attendees, local councillors and stakeholders. This was an open live streamed event given to consult on the pre-application proposals ahead of the formal consultation as part of the Planning Application process. Residents on the contact list and the website were sent the agenda and joining instructions on the 23rd November.

A formal one-month on-line consultation ran from December 3 2020 to January 4, 2021 on the city council’s Be Heard Website, which received 76 responses.

More information on the consultation can be found at https://www.birminghambeheard.org.uk/we_asked_you_said/

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