Better Streets for Moseley (BSfM) is a residents led group formed to give local people a voice in Birmingham City Council’s proposed Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) zones in Moseley and Kings Heath.
How did we get to where we are today?
For many people the Kings Heath and Moseley LTN schemes seemingly appeared from nowhere in the summer of 2020. Better Streets for Moseley formed at this time in response to these proposals. In order to provide context to both the scheme and BSfM’s formation it is useful to understand the history behind both. In short, how did we get to where we are today?
The School Road B13 problem
For many years a traffic problem on School Road had been growing and intensifying. The road is narrow making it difficult for two cars to pass. Residents would park their cars along one side of the road which meant that drivers could not see each other until they were caught in a traffic log jam. Cars were continuously mounting the pavement to get around each other. This was extremely dangerous for the school children and other pedestrians walking on the pavement. School Road leads to two primary schools so particularly during rush hour this was a serious problem.
The Safer Routes to Schools program
In January 2018, Birmingham City Council held a public meeting where they put forward six different proposals for measures on School Rd and some of the surrounding roads. These included options to make some of the roads one way, the addition of passing places and blocking vehicular access with Modal Filters. (You can read more about these original plans on Izzy Knowles blog).
Come October 2018 and the Council announced they were installing a modal filter on School Rd. These plans were showcased under the “Safer routes to Schools” banner which was a city wide campaign to increase pedestrian safety for children travelling to school.
The original plans put forward at the public meeting had included a change to make Valentine Road a one way street but with this evolution of the plan that no longer formed part of the proposal. The scheme at this point was to take the form of an eighteen month long experimental traffic order. The Council indicated that 70 out of 109 responses received after the January public meeting favoured the modal filter option.
In December 2018 the local Councillors circulated a letter about the proposals and a public engagement was held in January 2019. This was followed a few days later when the Council published a map of the proposal and opened a public survey. There was also opposition from local residents to the scheme with several petitions being raised.
For the remainder of 2019 and into 2020 no further movement on the scheme occurred until the Covid Pandemic reared its head.
The Covid-19 Response
In May 2020 Birmingham City Council published its Emergency Birmingham Transport Plan, A low carbon, clean air recovery after COVID-19 [https://www.birmingham.gov.uk/info/50250/emergency_transport_plan/2189/emergency_birmingham_transport_plan]. This earmarked Moseley and Kings Heath as potential sites for quick win Active Travel / Low Traffic Neighbourhood schemes.
School Road & Cambridge Rd Residents response
In June 2020, local residents became aware of the Council’s imminent intention to close School Rd with a revised solution. Both School Road and Cambridge Road had well established and active residents networks. Upon learning of the Council’s intentions the Cambridge Road residents contacted the council to voice their concerns that any closure of School Road would have an immediate and negative impact on their road.
Moseley Places for People Tranche 1
In July 2020 it became apparent that the School Road measures would now include a Modal Filter on Cambridge Road and this would be the first phase of a proposed area wide Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN). Also unveiled were proposals for LTN areas across Kings Heath and a future phase that would cover the “Moseley Triangle” roads. This was referred to as the F2 zone on these plans (https://s3-eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/commonplace-customer-assets/covidmeasuresbirmingham/BCC%20LTNs_KH%20Study%20Area.pdf).
The Department for Transport released funding for tranche 1 in June 2020 but wanted Councils to act quickly so required them to shortcut the normal consultation process.
The DfT announced there would be a second tranche of LTN funding, due for release in Autumn 2020. Currently this has (at the time of writing) not had a start date confirmed.
Better Streets for Moseley
In order to take a more holistic view, in the interests of all the residents, schools and businesses in the area, the School Rd and Cambridge Rd residents reached out to other neighbouring roads to form a group representing all of the proposed F2 roads. They believed they had initiated a successful engagement with Council that could be extended to include all other F2 residents and shared their correspondence as a guide for other streets.
This led to the formation of the Better streets for Mosely group which is made up of residents from the nearly 30 roads in the F2 and bordering area. Their aim was to campaign for the council’s LTN proposal to be applied in a holistic way so that all streets in the area can benefit.
The group consists of a core team of residents to coordinate activities and a wider group of street champions so that there is at least one person from each road represented by BSfM.
To date BSfM has:
- Established a monthly meeting with the Council
- Became a working group of the Moseley Forum
- Raised funds and procured two speed guns for residents to monitor speed on their streets
- Collected data on traffic volumes and speeds ahead of and then after the initial LTN measures
- Set out a working group to define success criteria and liaise with the Council over these.
- Established funding for publicity materials
- Established a FaceBook, Twitter and Blog presence (links to sites)
- Designed a resident’s survey (soon to be released)
- Advocated for a resident’s design focus Group (or Citizen’s Jury)
- Wrote to the Secretary of State, the West Midlands Mayor and the Council’s cabinet member for Transport to advocate for better design and more funding for a properly consulted and implemented LTN phase 2.
- Actions with Moseley in Bloom, the Active Well Being Society, Sustrans and the Woodcraft Folk to decorate and plant the planters installed in tranche 1.
- Bought 20mph speed restriction signs, initially for Billesley Lane.
Hopes for Tranche 2
Most of BSfM’s energy and effort is focussed on ensuring a good holistic and inclusive solution is developed in Tranche 2 for the F2 area. It is hoped that some of the negative impacts of T1 can be offset by good consultation and design for F2.
The Council is likely to appoint a traffic design consultant (Phil Jones Associates have been used before and with the train station designs) to set out the design options. BSfM will seek to ensure there is an active Resident’s voice in any design thinking and proposals.
At the time of writing BSfM is optimistically hoping for sufficient funding from a combination of the government’s EATF Tranche 2 funding and from Council Traffic Management budgets to make a holistic and acceptable solution that drives down pollution and traffic volumes and makes the F2 area a safer and more pleasant place to live.