November 8, 2021

The Response of Kings Heath BID to the Kings Heath & Moseley Places For People  Consultation

The Kings Heath BID, represented by its Board of Directors, having considered the consultation documents and having had private conversations with the project team, local councillors and the local business community, both before and during this current  consultation process would like to make the following comments regarding what is  commonly known locally as phase 2 of the LTN:

  • The BID recognises the international, national and local need to reduce carbon  emissions and acknowledges that a “climate emergency” very much exists
  • The BID understands that there are many car journeys across Birmingham every day  of 1 mile or less and that these contribute significantly to pollution. Our own High  Street has been widely regarded as one of the most polluted in the country
  • When phase 1 of the scheme was introduced, the BID took the decision to remain  neutral and to support and signpost businesses which wished to make  representations, both positive and negative. The BID Board stands by that decision,  which has been ratified at an Annual General Meeting of the BID Company
  • The BID also recognises that, given the easing of Covid restrictions and a more  measured approach to phase 2, the consultation being carried out by Birmingham  City Council is widespread and accessible to everyone
  • The BID thanks the project team for the opportunities to discuss the scheme in  advance of the release of the proposals and for the two business-specific events that  have taken place
  • The BID does, though, acknowledge that many businesses have legitimate concerns  about the impact that the LTN has had on them and, more importantly, will have on  them once phase 2 is implemented
  • There are a range of opinions about the LTN among the businesses of Kings Heath.  Many accept that LTNs are inevitable for the reasons stated above. Of these some  see the LTN as commercially damaging (e.g., loss of footfall, difficulties receiving deliveries, etc.) while others see it as a commercial positive (e.g., the hospitality  sector on York Road and businesses which support or promote non-motorised travel).
  • Other businesses accept the environmental imperatives but feel that LTNs are not  the way to achieve these aims, while still others completely reject the  implementation of LTNs and the environmental objectives underpinning them
  • The anecdotal evidence gathered from businesses saying that their customers are  now shopping elsewhere is a real concern to them. This is, in part, driven by negativity  on social media but is also a reality to many businesses
  • The BID has, and will continue to support all of its businesses to mitigate against any  negative impacts that the LTN has or may bring, but its ability to do so is limited by  resources, a lack of tangible support from the Council and the general concern that  the impacts of the LTN haven’t been fully considered
  • The BID retains its concerns that making it difficult to drive into or around Kings  Heath, without giving residents, customers and visitors viable alternatives is simply  putting people off from coming to Kings Heath
  • While the BID does agree with the medium to long term imperatives which underpin  the LTN, this scheme puts its short-term economic viability at risk in relation to other  suburbs of the city and neighbouring areas such as Shirley and Solihull
  • The BID has already begun working with businesses to encourage them to consider  other forms of transport for short journeys around the area, but the reality is that for  many businesses that require deliveries, or which rely on customers bringing large  items to them, a car or van is the only practical way of doing this. The LTN makes  these journeys difficult and lengthy, resulting in valuable time lost from operating a  business
  • The implementation of the LTN presents the BID with a new set of challenges in  terms of maintaining the viability of all the businesses in Kings Heath and sustaining the vibrancy of Kings Heath as a local centre in order to make the trial LTN a success
  • Whilst there is a taxi firm that is based within the Kings Heath BID area, it is worrying  that other taxi companies are allegedly increasingly reluctant to drop off or pick up  from Kings Heath
  • People remain reluctant to use buses as a form of public transport, due to perceived  and actual anti-social behaviour, fewer passengers wearing face coverings and cost.  Addressing these issues and therefore making bus travel a more attractive  proposition would encourage fewer car trips
  • The implementation of this scheme, while potentially inconveniencing residents of  Kings Heath, does not necessarily affect their ability to earn a living. The same cannot  be said for people who work or operate businesses in the area

In response to these concerns, the BID would like to make the following recommendations  to Birmingham City Council, some of which may already be being considered.

In terms of the implementation of the LTN:

1. That if the scheme is to be introduced more or less as the plans currently show, it is  implemented in a phased approach so that Kings Heath does not become inaccessible  overnight and businesses, customers, residents, employees and visitors can gradually  acclimatize to the enforced changes

2. That all proposed one-way circuits are implemented in the same direction (ie  clockwise or anti-clockwise) to make it easier for drivers to navigate around Kings  Heath

3. That where these one-way circuits are introduced, additional traffic calming  measures are installed to reduce the speeds at which some drivers will use these  streets

4. That the Council works alongside the BID and business community to carry out a  widespread marketing campaign to encourage customers who have been lost to  other suburbs and to Shirley and Solihull back to the area – both by car and  alternative forms of transport

5. That where inevitable traffic works take place in the future, modal filters are  temporarily removed to offer routes through Kings Heath and avoiding unnecessary  congestion – as was evident when Valentine Road, Shuttock Lane and Heathfield  Road have been closed to motor vehicles this year

6. That when these works do take place, they are scheduled to take place no more than  one at a time to minimise the disruption that all road users will face

7. That Birmingham City Council undertakes a proper review of how traffic movement,  speeds and parking are enforced in Kings Heath and ensures an adequate and  sensible presence of traffic enforcement officers across the area on a permanent  basis

8. That the impacts of traffic flow across and through the LTN area are constantly  monitored and, where bottlenecks occur, these are dealt with by introducing the  necessary technological implementations, such as new traffic lights, which are fit for  purpose to allow traffic to flow freely

9. That the “Covid Barriers” on the High Street, not currently part of the LTN plans, are  dealt with immediately, whatever the outcome of that may be

10.That other measures to reduce traffic and improve the air and environmental quality  are implemented both now and in the future

11.That where such measures exist, and as soon as technological advances bring new  products to the market, Kings Heath should be offered the opportunity to adopt these  first

12.That the impacts of the implementation of the LTN are considered, measured and,  where appropriate, adjusted or amended. These include, but are not limited to, the  current “no right turns” from Addison Road onto the High Street and from Vicarage  Road onto the High Street

13. That Birmingham City Council introduces all other measures necessary to reduce and  ultimately remove HGV vehicles using the A435 as a corridor through the city or from  the city centre to the south

In terms of specific amendments to the current plans:

14.That due consideration and mitigation is given to the businesses on Addison Road,  Institute Road, Heathfield Road, Poplar Road, York Road and Silver Street which, even  after the implementation of these measures, will still require deliveries from large  vehicles which may find access and egress more challenging due to the modal filters

15.That the proposed one-way circuit of Poplar and Valentine Roads begins after the  entrance to the Asda car park, allowing for delivery vehicles and customers to enter  from and exit to the High Street

16.That the modal filter on Silver Street be moved to the western side of Fairfield Road, allowing continued delivery access and egress to businesses on Balaclava, Waterloo  and York Roads

17.That a dedicated right-turn filter is introduced from Howard Road East to Alcester  Road South, allowing for more vehicles coming into Kings Heath to pass through the  junction at each traffic light phase

18.That signage to car parks is improved along the high street and that parking is standardised across all car parks in Kings Heath, ideally with an initial 90-minute free  period

In terms of improving the look, feel and attractiveness of Kings Heath Centre:

19.That Birmingham City Council works with the BID and local businesses to improve the  overall quality of the High Street and LTN area including:

  • Cleaning of the high street and side streets to include jet-washing  pavements with a 2-year maintenance programme
  • Graffiti removal with a 2-year maintenance programme
  • A programme of works to make Kings Heath more welcoming
  • General repairs to street furniture
  • Replacement of old lighting columns
  • General sprucing up and repainting with a 2-year maintenance programme

20.That the unsightly concrete bollards currently holding the road signs in place are  either upgraded, branded or removed to improve the aesthetic of the high street

21.That, as a part of the scheme implementation, additional signage is put up along Kings  Heath High Street promoting the area’s unique independent offering and directing  foot traffic to the streets that run off of the high street

22.That Birmingham City Council works with the owners/operators of the privately owned car parks, primarily those adjoining the supermarkets in Kings Heath, to better  support those visitors who have no choice but to drive into Kings Heath – employee  parking, school walking bus drop-offs, longer free periods, etc.

In terms of public and alternative forms of transport:

23.That the Council continues to apply the strongest pressure possible to the West  Midlands LEP and Transport For West Midlands to see the opening of Kings Heath  Railway station as soon as possible

24.That other alternative transport initiatives are made available across Kings Heath,  including the Voi Scooters and Beryl Bikes

25.That the Council invests in and encourages car sharing schemes, reducing the need  for car ownership in the LTN-affected area

26.That the Council offers incentives to businesses based in Kings Heath to invest in  alternative forms of transport, either through grant or loan funding

27.That Birmingham City Council bans bus operators from using older, high-polluting  vehicles on any routes that pass through the LTN area

28.That bus services into, across and through Kings Heath are rationalised to reduce the  proliferation of bus operators whose vehicles add to empty buses and increase  pollution

29.That more is done to reduce the cost and negative perceptions of public transport,  making it a viable and affordable alternative to car travel

30.That incentives are offered to people working in Kings Heath to make it easier for  them to commute via means other than private vehicles