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Contact: Joe Suffield Democratic Services Officer
Apologies were received from Councillor McCarthy who was substituted by Councillor Clements.
Councillor Cole submitted his apologies, however participated in the meeting virtually.
Declarations of Interest
To receive declarations of interest from Members.
There were no declarations of interest.
Questions and Deputations
To deal with any questions or deputations received.
No questions or deputations were submitted.
To receive the minutes of the previous meeting held on 12th July 2021.
The minutes of the meeting held on 12th July 2021 were presented.
The minutes of the meeting held on 12th July 2021 were approved.
The Senior Project Manager (HS2 Ltd) introduced the item, and highlighted the following points:
· There were three reasons for vegetation clearance, for permanent works, temporary works and for ongoing operation and maintenance of the high speed network.
· HS2 Ltd was constrained by the requirements of the Environmental Statement within the HS2 Act, as well as the Local Environment Management Plans. There were two types of land which could be used under the act; the land required for permanent works and the land required for ancillary assets.
· Within the Borough, there had been significant clearances which had taken place, and a lot of planning had taken place to enable this, such as seasonal constraints. Clearance started in 2018, with a phased approach to clear the footprint of the scheme initially. This was undertaken, as there would not be time later in the programme to clear the land.
· There was extensive work which had been carried out on the Kenilworth Greenway, but this was relative to the scope and extent of the work which was required to build the railway.
· As the programme has progressed, communications with other stakeholders, such as Solihull Council had improved, in relation to clearances and planting. Examples were provided of where they had been challenged to retain woodland.
· They aimed to design and build the route to ensure that trees which fell within the zone of influence would be removed or coppiced back. This would provide safeguards to prevent it from being an impact on the railway.
· The Landscaping Design Process had four steps which had to be followed, these were:
o Step 1: The baseline standards which would need to be followed for an area
o Step 2: To look at the specified conditions of a location, such as ground conditions, soil, biodiversity
o Step 3: Detailed design which takes account of HS2 Ltd standards and requirements as national controls
o Step 4: The scheme of implementation
· A number of images were provided which showed illustrative plans and images of Kenilworth Greenway, Cromwell Lane Underpass and Burton Green area.
· Improved collaboration had taken place with Solihull Council, and they hoped to work together in the future to interlink with the work underpinned in the Council Plan which aligned with the hopes and aspirations of HS2 Ltd.
Members commented on the presentation and asked the following questions:
· A Member acknowledged that the engagement early on in the programme to communicate the significant vegetation clearance had been poor, and was grateful that this had been identified as an area which should have been improved. It was recognised that the presentation had highlighted why significant areas had to be cleared. They asked how they planned to communicate the work undertaken to local residents. The Head of Stakeholder Engagement (BBV) explained they would take the material shared at the meeting to future Parish Council meetings to provide an update in the community. The Senior Project Manager also stated they would include the examples in community magazines around Balsall Common.
Being a good neighbour
To receive an item on the steps undertaken by HS2 Ltd to support local communities.
The Chairman introduced the item, and stressed the importance of HS2 Ltd and its contractors to support the local community which they would operate in.
The HS2 Senior Engagement Manager highlighted that the HS2 Ltd Community Engagement Strategy was launched in 2017, which set out how HS2 Ltd would work within communities. Within this, there were ten commitments on how they would engage with local communities, which they consistently assess delivery against.
The Engagement Manager for the Interchange Area (LM) provided the following examples of the work they had undertaken in the local community in recent months:
· LM had worked closely with Birmingham Business Park (BBP) throughout their highways development programme, which commenced in 2019/2020, to minimise disruption while works would take place. LM’s traffic management changes in the area were shared with these stakeholders well in advance through a range of communications channels and events. These would help workers at the park plan their commutes effectively and minimise the impact on nearby communities.
· Low carbon asphalt had been in the Interchange Area to lower LM’s carbon footprint while they remodelled and improved the road network.
· As LM were due to close down or hand over sites to the main works contractor in the Interchange Area, they had been able to repurpose and donate materials from these sites to local groups. For example, this included the donation of five picnic benches to the George Fentham Trust in Hampton-in-Arden for use in a variety of public spaces.
· LM had supported Melbicks Garden Centre through the installation of additional directional signage for customers to assist them negotiate the changes to the road network in that area.
The Head of Stakeholder Engagement also provided the following examples:
· BBV had worked with a local primary school in Balsall Common to provide improvement works at the outdoor facilities. As they progressed through the line of route, they would look to work with more local groups or organisations.
· After being contacted by local stakeholders about problems with Baulk Lane while Lavender Hall Lane was closed, BBV closed Baulk Lane to improve the experience of local residents in the area.
· The initial design for Heath Park meant the temporary closure of both football pitches, however they had redesigned the site to enable only one pitch to be lost. They continued to look for different options to develop the facilities at Heath Park.
· A number of other examples were referenced, such as the donation of some fencing, alterations to fencing at Hampton Hill Hounds and the creation of a Public Rights of Way Working Group.
The HS2 Senior Engagement Manager summarised the presentation and highlighted that the transition had taken place for the HS2 local webpages. They encouraged residents to sign up to this information. They also shared some of the statistics for helpdesk enquiries for the Borough, which included that 92% of complaints were answered within 20 working days. The Community Engagement Strategy was being refreshed and more details would be available at the next meeting.
Members ... view the full minutes text for item 6.
To provide an update on the ecological work undertaken by HS2 and Solihull Council. To also receive a programme update from HS2 Ltd.
The HS2 Senior Engagement Manager introduced the item, and highlighted that they would be happy to respond to queries within the PowerPoint.
The Engagement Manager highlighted the following points:
· LM would continue to remodel and improve sections of the road network, and create new routes on HS2 Ltd land. This would ensure that the road network would be fit for purpose when the HS2 Interchange Station opened. LM’s current scope of works in the Interchange area would conclude in summer 2022 before the Commonwealth Games.
· Works were now concentrated on and around the roundabout over the M42, outside Birmingham Business Park, referred to as Northway Island in HS2 communications. The route of travel around the roundabout had permanently changed for road users.
· Road closures around Northway Island would take place on:
o From 8pm on 5th November until 5am on 8th November
o From 8pm on 19th November until 5am on 22nd November
Members made comments and asked the following questions:
· A Member sought clarity over the changes to the road network in the Interchange Area. The Engagement Manager explained that the roundabout over the M42 would be changed into a T Junction to take cars in and out of Birmingham Business Park, to the NEC or over the M42 highways bridge. In future, to access Melbicks Garden Centre or Quartz Point Business Park from Chelmsley Wood, would require an individual to use the T Junction, then go over the M42 highways bridge and navigate the roundabout in the middle of the Interchange triangle to access Interchange Station and all other routes east of the M42. BBV were responsible for the creation of the rest of the Interchange Area road network changes east of the M42. The Head of Highways Management flagged that the roundabout over the HS2 route in the Interchange Area was significantly higher than the train track.
· A Member asked for more clarity about how HS2 Ltd communicated with local residents, as they were aware many residents did not use the internet or would not access notifications. The Engagement Manager summarised the different communications methods used to interact with stakeholders which were dependent on the type and location of works. For example, in the Interchange Area, works were communicated through key contacts within local businesses, Parish Councils and other local forums and groups. LM also worked collaboratively with Solihull Council, National Highways and Transport for West Midlands to promote traffic managing information as widely as possible when necessary. The HS2 Senior Engagement Manager highlighted that the level of engagement depended upon the specifics of the work, more impactful works would receive wider communication and engagement whereas lower impactful works may require very localised communications. For individuals who did not use the internet, they would look at joined up working with other stakeholders, to promote the messages in as many forums as possible.
· A Member sought more information on the move from Commonplace to HS2 Ltds own localised website, and how successful it had ... view the full minutes text for item 7.
To receive an update of the HS2 project from Solihull Council’s Highway Services Division.
The Head of Highways Management presented the latest Schedule 4 applications. They confirmed that they worked closely with HS2 Ltd to find a solution for the Stonebridge roundabout on the A45 prior to a formal application being submitted.
It was highlighted that the HS2 Road Safety Fund would close on 29th October. There had been over 150 suggestions received, to access £2.435m allocated to support communities along the line of the route.
To provide an update on the current version of the Key Issues Tracker.
The Key Issues Tracker was presented to the Group.
Councillor Rolf presented an update on Heath Park. A proposal would be submitted to HS2 Ltd to compensate for the loss of part of Heath Park as a result of the construction works, and permanent route of the train line. This included:
· A landscaped embankment profile to allow the incorporation of trees, in place of the retaining wall.
· To build a skate park on the site.
· A safe crossing from Yorkminster Drive to Heath Park.
This would help to provide a facility for local people in return for the loss of Heath Park and leave a legacy within the community.
The HS2 Senior Engagement Manager committed to working with Councillor Rolf and Solihull Council to explore options for Heath Park.