Calling for a gateway to Longbridge


I’d already used the station as a passenger but this week, I also got an update briefing at Birmingham New Street to see how the redevelopment project is unfolding. I used the opportunity to call again for action to improve transport connections to Longbridge and surrounding areas.

New Street, the focus of a £600 million redevelopment, aims to make Birmingham a transport hub for the West Midlands. What is going on at the station is exciting. It is transforming the station itself and the surrounding shopping area. And it will link New Street with Eastside and Curzon Street, the proposed station for the High Speed Two (HS2) Railway. It’s the kind of gateway to the West Midlands that Birmingham has long needed. 

But for New Street to be a real gateway to the West Midlands we urgently need to improve connectivity with other areas in the city and wider region. 

There is a huge redevelopment going on at Longbridge – with a new college, a new town centre, and a high-tech park with bags of potential for investment. We need New Street and HS2 to fully connect to this nationally significant project – located on the border between Birmingham and Worcestershire border, close to the M42 and M5 motorways, and on the Cross City line. The station is therefore a vital gateway to Longbridge both as a destination and as a link to other areas. Close to the Lickey, Waseley and Clent Hills, the station also has unique access to the two of the region’s beauty spots and is an important hub for commuter traffic.

But the potential Longbridge gives the area is undermined by poor facilities at the railway station. There is also just not enough thought given to connectivity between different types of transport in the area. I have been working with colleagues in the Longbridge Connectivity Group – which includes representatives from the private sector and community, as well as public authorities such as Centro, Network Rail, London Midland and local councillors – to call for significant improvements to link Longbridge with the wider public transport network.

The Connectivity Group has developed a Transport Bid to the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Transport Board, with support from the public sector, private sector and local community. We have practical proposals that will help unlock Longbridge’s potential as an attractive and competitive destination, and stimulate jobs and investment, and have also looked at how to improve the passenger experience and ensure environmental sustainability in the long term.

The transformation of New Street station is an opportunity to tackle urban isolation and improve prosperity throughout the wider Birmingham area, and to put Longbridge on the map. After the University Train Station redevelopment opened up access to the East Midlands, Wales and the South West, we need to be looking ambitiously at how Longbridge connects to the region, and to the rest of the country.

This week we also heard that Birmingham Airport have an ambitious vision of future expansion, which will provide major opportunities for the entire West Midlands area. Longbridge is a key part of this jigsaw. It would simply make no sense to spend 600 million pounds on New Street, and millions more on the future of Birmingham Airport, without looking at wider connectivity issues. I urge the GBS Local Transport Board to consider our bid, and take action to make Birmingham New Street a true gateway for the entire region.

You can read the full press release here and the letter the Longbridge Connectivity Group sent to the GBS Local Transport Board here.

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Richard Burden

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I was Labour Member of Parliament for Birmingham Northfield between 1992 and 2019 and a former Shadow Transport Minister. I now chair Healthwatch in Birmingham and Solihull, and the West Midlands Board of Remembering Srebrenica. I also work as a public affairs consultant. I am an effective community advocate and stakeholder alliance builder with a passion for human rights. I am a trustee of the Balfour Project charity and of Citizens Advice Birmingham, and a former Chair of Medical Aid for Palestinians.

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