HS2’s eco-friendly Interchange station at Solihull in the west Midlands has gained planning approval from Solihull council, with the planner’s report saying the design creates “an exciting contextual response to its setting”.
The station, which will be at the heart of the HS2 network in the Midlands, recently became the first railway station globally to achieve the BREEAM ‘Outstanding’ certification at the design stage – a measure of sustainability for new and refurbished buildings – putting it in the top 1% of buildings in the UK for eco-friendly credentials.
The council’s planning team said that the design of the station “draws upon the historic and agricultural character of the local area and delivers a strong sense of place and identity through its architectural form and the design of its landscape.”
The station’s design makes use of renewable technologies, and in operation, the station will use natural ventilation, daylight, harvested rainwater and solar energy to cut carbon. The Automated People Mover will link to the NEC, Birmingham International Station and Birmingham Airport, carrying up to 2,100 passengers per hour in each direction, with a service every three minutes along a 2.3km route.
HS2’s stations director Matthew Botelle said: “We’re extremely pleased to receive approval for the design of Interchange station, which will be net zero carbon in operation, and adopts the latest eco-friendly design and sustainable technologies. The operation of our stations will play a key role in the UK’s fight against climate change and achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
“Our architects and engineers have worked together with landscape architects, soil scientists, ecologists and water specialists to develop a truly unique, landscape-led, contextual proposition which draws on the local Arden setting for its inspiration, with lots of new habitats for wildlife.
“We have also worked with our local stakeholders to design a station that considers future major growth plans around the site. These are being led by the Urban Growth Company, will support 70,000 new and existing jobs, 5,000 new homes and 650,000m2 of commercial space across the UK Central Hub, generating £6.2bn GVA per year and bringing 1.3m people to within a 45-minute public transport commute of the station.”
Andy Street, mayor of the West Midlands, said: “HS2 has got a critical role to play in the West Midlands’ economic recovery by driving investment and helping to provide tens of thousands of jobs. Given the climate emergency the West Midlands is facing, it is also great to see how eco-friendly these plans are. It is brilliant news that the Interchange plans have been approved by Solihull Council, and I look forward to working with both the Council and HS2 Ltd to make sure we maximise the potential of this site.”
HS2’s design consultants ARUP have worked closely with their landscape architects Churchman Thornhill Finch to develop a design which celebrates the local context and biodiversity of its native landscape associated with the Forest of Arden.
Kim Quazi, director at ARUP architects said: “Creating the world’s most sustainable station has always been at the heart of HS2’s design vision and this planning approval is testament to everything we have been working towards. This represents a significant milestone for station design and a step forward in our quest for greener rail.”
Chris Churchman, director at Churchman, Thornhill Finch said: “The design celebrates biodiversity through the use of signature native tree species supplemented by more unusual natives, notably crab apples, wild pear and plum. These are set within native hedges featuring a mix of blackthorn, hawthorn, hazel, dogwood, dog rose and elder.”
Next steps include continuing to work with SMBC and stakeholders on maximising the development opportunities around the site, awarding the construction partner contract in 2022, and construction is planned to start in 2024.