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Green open spaces
Displaying until 01 Sep 2021 - FreeTimePays
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Love our parks - get involved!

As Lockdown rules start to enable more people to enjoy their parks and green spaces, we all want to ensure that these wonderful places of natural beauty are protected for all to enjoy.  This community collective will share some of the brilliant initiatives running across the UK and show just how, together, we can make a difference for the benefit of all.  Connect with us.

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Love our parks - get involved!





As Lockdown rules start to enable more people to enjoy their parks and green spaces, we all want to ensure that these wonderful places of natural beauty are protected for all to enjoy.  This community collective will share some of the brilliant initiatives running across the UK and show just how, together, we can make a difference for the benefit of all.  Connect with us.


Over the next month and for the remainder of 2020, we will be growing our reach and pull together information and details on all the great work being carried out across communities as they collectively protect their parks.  

This will grow into a massive 'community-led' resource for people with a shared interest and passion for their local parks and green spaces.  

Here's just a few of the ideas and initiatives we will be telling you more about so we can share and get more people actively involved.

Litter picking groups - they do a fantastic job.  We'll connect you with your local group.

Art & Culture Trail.  We'll help you set up your trail and showcase your parks.

Walking clubs. We'll connect you and bring in more friends.

Park angels.  Volunteering with a difference.  We'll tell you more.

Creativity and green spaces collide.  Let's look at how art, music, photography and creativity in all its forms can help promote and protect our parks. 

Parks and mental health.  A walk, ride or jog in the park can do so much for your mental health.

There's something for everyone.

Connect with us and help us protect our parks. 

 

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60 passion points
Squares and public spaces
20 Jan 2021 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

Kings Heath Village Square at Vicarage Road and High Street near All Saints Church

The churchyard of All Saints Church in Kings Heath was refurbished into Kings Heath Village Square back in 2011. Located near Vicarage Road and the Kings Heath High Street. There is a regular Famers Market, once a month on the first Saturday of the month. Other events have taken place here over the years. Such as National Express West Midlands promoting the then new no 50 bus.

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Kings Heath Village Square at Vicarage Road and High Street near All Saints Church





The churchyard of All Saints Church in Kings Heath was refurbished into Kings Heath Village Square back in 2011. Located near Vicarage Road and the Kings Heath High Street. There is a regular Famers Market, once a month on the first Saturday of the month. Other events have taken place here over the years. Such as National Express West Midlands promoting the then new no 50 bus.


KINGS HEATH VILLAGE SQUARE

The Village Square opened in Kings Heath back in October 2011. The land was originally the churchyard of All Saints Church (some graves and grave stones remain, plus a war memorial). It's like an old village green now but in the heart of Kings Heath. One of the main features is a Labyrinth that people can walk around for fun. The All Saints Centre was also built around the same time (it includes a cafe and pharmacy).

Many cultural events and markets have taken place here over the years (before the pandemic). Such as the Kings Heath Farmers Market, taking place on the first Saturday of each month. Sometimes even a small fun fair with rides. Or collections for charity at Christmas time.

Kings Heath Village Square is located at a site between Vicarage Road and the High Street in Kings Heath, with All Saints Church to the far end of the square.

Bus routes include the 11A, 11C, 35, 50 and 76.

 

Kings Heath Village Square over the years

One of my earliest photos of Kings Heath Village Square, taken during February 2012, of the Labyrinth. You can see some market stalls near the Kings Heath All Saints Centre. Taken during the Kings Heath Farmers Market on Saturday 4th February 2012.

 

A day later on Sunday 5th February 2012, I returned to Kings Heath when there was a snowfall. This view of Kings Heath Village Square towards the All Saints Centre.

 

A blue sky during the middle of January 2020 as seen in Kings Heath Village Square. The Platinum buses had been on the 50 for over a year by this point. All Saints Church seen to the left.

 

Some snow in Kings  Heath Village Square, as seen from the no 11A bus on Vicarage Road. This was near the end of December 2020 (while still in Tier 3 restrictions at the time). View to All Saints Church.

 

Markets and fairs in the Village Square over the years

 

Kings Heath Farmers Market

This was the Kings Heath Farmers Market as held on Saturday 7th December 2013. It was Christmas time, so there was also some rides there for kids, as well as Father Christmas.

It was open from 9am until 2pm. The Christmas Gift & Craft Fayre was also being held by the Moseley & Kings Heath Lions Club.

Plenty of market stalls all around the square that day.

Bottles of a drink for sale.

A Disney style teacups ride for kids to enjoy.

Oh look, it's Father Christmas in his sleigh with a couple of reindeer! From the Moseley & Kings Heath Lions Club.

 

Kings Heath Winter Fest

This took place on Saturday the 15th November 2014 in Kings Heath Village Square. Plenty of rides for kids to go on.

A small ferris wheel.

Hook A Duck

Signs showing that the All Saints Centre had hall & rooms available for hire. Also the banner for this event.

 

Brum Yum Yum Kings Heath

This event took place on the 9th April 2016. It was part of the KingshEATh Streetfood Market.

From this VW Campervan you could buy Mexican Street Food. Cafe Borchata.

The British Bus Bar, was next to something about Virgin Media.

The Food Yule Love trailer.

Drink Up.

Charlie Dumpling was outside of the All Saints Centre.

 

The 50 bus from National Express West Midlands

On Saturday the 18th April 2015, National Express West Midlands launched the (then) new bus to be used on the no 50 bus route between Birmingham City Centre and Druids Heath (via Balsall Heath, Kings Heath, Moseley and the Maypole).

It was 6132 Julie.

This fleet of buses was on the 50 from 2015 to 2018, before being transferred to the 11A and 11C, when the 50 went Platinum from December 2018.

These buses have since been rebranded from 50 to 11A or 11C, with hints of yellow over the red. So it's more likely that you might be on the 11 on Vicarage Road, than on a 50 on the High Street (as you'd be in Platinum bus instead).

 

The Big Hoot Birmingham 2015

The trail of painted owls wasn't only in the City Centre back in the summer of 2015, but you could find some in Kings Heath (as well as the little owls). One owl was here in Kings Heath Village Square, plus you could find another one in Kings Heath Park and outside of Kings Heath Library at the time. The trail ran for 10 weeks (after which the owls were auctioned off for charity).

In Kings Heath Village Square you could find: The Owl and the Pussycat Went to Sea by the artist Mik Richardson. It was sponsored by the Kings Heath BID. Seen during July 2015.

 

Classic Car Meet

Click here for the full Classic Car Meet post. This was held on the August Bank Holiday Monday, 26th August 2019 in Kings Heath Village Square. I was changing buses from the 50 to 11A when I spotted all these classic cars and I went to have a look before going home.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown. Can be found on Twitter: ellrbrown

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70 passion points
Squares and public spaces
19 Jan 2021 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

A look round Colmore Square, between Colmore Row and Steelhouse Lane

If you are walking down Colmore Row or up Steelhouse Lane, you will get to Colmore Circus Queensway. In the middle of that is Colmore Square. Redeveloped in the early 2000s, from the subways and lowered areas that were filled in. The Wesleyan had already been there since 1991, while No 1 Colmore Square opened in 2004. The square was refurbished in 2014 with new benches and flower planters.

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A look round Colmore Square, between Colmore Row and Steelhouse Lane





If you are walking down Colmore Row or up Steelhouse Lane, you will get to Colmore Circus Queensway. In the middle of that is Colmore Square. Redeveloped in the early 2000s, from the subways and lowered areas that were filled in. The Wesleyan had already been there since 1991, while No 1 Colmore Square opened in 2004. The square was refurbished in 2014 with new benches and flower planters.


COLMORE SQUARE

 

Colmore Square is in the centre of Colmore Circus Queensway. It is connected to Colmore Row, Bull Street, The Priory Queensway, Steelhouse Lane, Weaman Street and Snow Hill Queensway.

 

Colmore Circus Queensway was rebuilt in 2002, replacing the old roundabout of the Inner Ring Road with a square (this was around the same time when Masshouse Circus Queensway was demolished, breaking up the Concrete Collar, which had stopped development in Birmingham for decades). Out went the subways, and in came traffic lights and pelican crossings and road level. It is now safer to walk from Birmingham Snow Hill Station, on Colmore Row to Birmingham Children's Hospital on Steelhouse Lane, without having to go into subways (which you had to do from 1998 to sometime before 2002). It is also an alternate walking route to Aston University and the Magistrate and Law Courts, through the Steelhouse Conservation Area.

 

The Wesleyan was built from 1988 to 1991, so some changes had to be made to get the square to be level with the outside of the building, including a fountain.

No 1 Colmore Square was completed opposite The Wesleyan in 2004. No 2 Colmore Square is on the corner of The Priory Queensway and Steelhouse Lane, also known as Cannon House and Priory House (refurbished in 2006). There is a Matthew Boulton plaque, on the corner, as he was born nearby in the area (in 1728).

Colmore Plaza is on the opposite corner of Colmore Circus and Steelhouse Lane, this was completed in 2007 (replacing the Post & Mail Building of 1965-2006). It was renamed to The Colmore Building since 2016.

 

The original Midland Metro extension was built on the part of Colmore Circus near Colmore Row from 2012 to 2015. The first part opened to Bull Street Tram Stop in December 2016 (reaching Grand Central Tram Stop by 2016).

Minor refurbishment of Colmore Square in 2014 with new benches and flower planters, plus some chess table benches.

 

Every Christmas the Colmore BID places a Christmas tree here, and in the summer, Cofton Nursery places one of their Floral Trail pieces. The Big Hoot had 3 painted owls in summer 2015, and The Big Sleuth 3 painted bears in the summer of 2017. The trails were to help the Birmingham Children's Hospital Charity.

 

Colmore Square as it was during May 2009. This view: The Wesleyan on the left, then the view down Steelhouse Lane with Colmore Plaza on the left and No 2 Colmore Square on the right (near the end of The Priory Queensway).

A look down Steelhouse Lane from Colmore Square. Fountain Court and the back of the Victoria Law Courts are visible from here.

In the other direction towards Colmore Gate and Colmore Row with Bull Street to the left. The old 103 Colmore Row (NatWest Tower) was just about visible to the right (behind Barclays Bank).

Shadow near No 1 Colmore Square, which is the office building on the left.

 

Colmore Square Then and Now

Spot the difference. The old NatWest Tower stood at 103 Colmore Row until 2015. After demolition, the new 103 Colmore Row was built during 2019 into 2020, and will open sometime later in 2021.

A July 2009 view of Colmore Square. Beyond Colmore Gate and The Wesleyan towards the NatWest Tower (the old 103 Colmore Row).

 

This view of Colmore Square taken during July 2020. While the new 103 Colmore Square was under construction. Seen between Colmore Gate, Barclays Bank, 9 Colmore Row, 1 Colmore Row and The Wesleyan.

 

2014 refurbishment of Colmore Square

This was during April 2014. This view from the construction site of the Midland Metro extension.

New flower planters with trees and benches, close to The Wesleyan.

They were also installed close to No 1 Colmore Square.

There was also brand new bins installed at the time.

More new trees close to The Priory Queensway.

The chess table benches. Whether anyone played chess or checkers here, I'm not sure. More like people having their lunch on them!

There was also new bike racks, near Colmore Plaza and The Wesleyan.

The reverse view of Colmore Square back towards the Midland Metro extension. The Grand Hotel was under scaffolding, but was before the renovation works started.

 

Birmingham City Centre Floral Trail

Cofton Nursery is responsible for placing the various floral trail pieces all over the City Centre, every summer. Some for special occasions.

 

Seen in early August 2012 in Colmore Square was this floral trail piece called Female Weightlifter. It was the year of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. It was based on Zoe Smith and Natasha Perdue. It was one of 23 features that you could see along the route that summer in 2012. The Colmore BID sponsored it, supporting Birmingham Bloom in celebrating Team GB.

 

From July 2015, the Folding Bicyle was back in the City Centre, this time in Colmore Square. The summer before (2014) it was located in Church Street Square. In 2014 it was one of 12 WW1 features to commemorate Britain's entry into the First World War (1914-18). The commemorations continued into 2015.

 

Wasn't so much of a Floral Trail by the summer of 2019, just the odd piece around the City Centre. From July 2019, was this Rock 'N' Roll Drums located in Colmore Square. Probably as it was Black Sabbath's 50th Anniversary, and they had an exhibition on at the Gas Hall that summer. Called Home of Metal Presents: Black Sabbath 50 Years.

 

The Big Hoot Birmingham 2015

Seen in Colmore Square during July 2015 was The Big Hoot, a trail of painted owls. This trail would be on for around 10 weeks before being auctioned for charity.

Leo by the artist Ruth Green. The sponsor was Pinsent Masons.

 

Tessellated Triangles was by the artist Deven Bhurke. The sponsor was Shoosmiths.

 

The Graduate by the artist Deven Bhurke. The sponsor was The Wesleyan.

 

The Big Sleuth Birmingham 2017

Seen in Colmore Square during July 2017 was The Big Sleuth, a trail of painted bears. Running for 10 weeks, before the painted bears were auctioned off for charity.

Get Your Bearings was designed by Tom Crotty and painted by G-Anders.The sponsor was Amey.

 

Birminghamshire by the artist Rachel Blackwell. The sponsor was The Wesleyan.

 

Captain Blue Bear by the artist Maria Burns. The sponsor was Vodafone.

 

Christmas Tree's over the years in Colmore Square

The Colmore BID usually installs a variety of Christmas tree's in Colmore Square over the years, close to the part of Colmore Circus with Colmore Row. Sometimes artificial baubles, other years a real grown tree.

The Baubles Christmas Tree in Colmore Square seen during November 2011. Celebrate Christmas with Colmore Business District. The view towards No 1 Colmore Square.

Early in January 2012, the same Christmas Tree was still up, and I caught it lit up after dark in Colmore Square.

 

In December 2014, you could see a real Christmas Tree in Colmore Square. This view towards 9 and 1 Colmore Row.

 

There was also a real Christmas Tree in Colmore Square during December 2015. This view towards Colmore Gate.

 

Same again in November 2017 with this Christmas Tree. View towards The Wesleyan.

 

The last real Christmas Tree in Colmore Square, seen during November 2019. The view between 1 Colmore Row and The Wesleyan.

 

During the 2nd lockdown, close to the end of November 2020, I saw this artificial Christmas Tree in Colmore Square, as a West Midlands Metro tram passed by.

Later that day, before I got the bus home, I saw it lit up after dark. The last time I went through Colmore Square during December 2020, it had been removed. Probably due to the Snow Hill Public Realm works taking place nearby on Colmore Row.

 

Other events

A few more observations in Colmore Square over the years. Usually when I was heading to get some lunch from Colmore Row (and on the walk back to work).

 

The Microsoft Office 365 bench was in Colmore Square on the 29th March 2013. You could sit here and enjoy free WiFi while you work (outside).

 

A band was playing some musical instruments in Colmore Square, and there was an audience watching from those deckchairs. This was on the 23rd July 2014. Lots of office workers out to buy their lunch that day.

 

Exercise bikes were being ridden in Colmore Square, as seen on the 15th July 2015. Quite close to the Folding Bike floral trail feature. They were riding for the Birmingham Children's Hospital charity. From "Lands End to John O'Groats". They were from The Wesleyan. Of course if they did this now, they would do it from home over Zoom.

 

See also the post on Church Street Square in the Colmore BID.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown. Can be found on Twitter: ellrbrown

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70 passion points
Construction & regeneration
18 Jan 2021 - Stephen Giles
News & Updates

Selly Oak Student Scheme: Amended Plans

REVISED plans have gone in for a 510-bed canalside student redevelopment on Elliott Road, Selly Oak.

With a new architect also on board, the scheme has been drastically improved to directly connect to arguably Birmingham's biggest asset - its canal system.

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Selly Oak Student Scheme: Amended Plans





REVISED plans have gone in for a 510-bed canalside student redevelopment on Elliott Road, Selly Oak.

With a new architect also on board, the scheme has been drastically improved to directly connect to arguably Birmingham's biggest asset - its canal system.


Located at ‘Selly Oak Industrial Estate, Units 5-8, Elliott Road‘, the amended proposal - brought forward by Watkins Jones Group - will see the site reconnect with arguably Birmingham’s biggest asset - its canal, through the demolition of vacant industrial builds (as seen above) before redevelopment can deliver:

  • Part 5-8 storey accommodation;
  • 510 student beds (130 studios/380 clusters);
  • 11 contemporary townhouses along Elliott Road;
  • Central courtyard gardens;
  • Secure Indoor & outdoor amenity spaces;
  • Zero parking/ 128 cycles;
  • NEW fluid connections to the canal towpath and beyond.

With a new design team in place, Glenn Howells Architects & Layer Studio Landscape have set about delivering on three main principles in redesigning the scheme. These are:

  • Establishing a fluid connection to the Canal;
  • Creating a green campus;
  • Providing connected routes all around the site.

An expansive courtyard garden will become the beating heart of the scheme, providing students with sufficient space to study and relax - or simply to collect their bike before venturing out and about. 

Lively amenity spaces (gym, lounges and study spaces) will be located at ground floor level, with the area set to bring much-needed activity and interest to the canal system and its new area of public realm.

Eleven contemporary townhouses will be positioned along Elliott Road - these have been purposely designed in response to the scale and context of the neighbouring area.

Before & after:

With considerable demand for PBSA in Selly Oak and across the city, Fresh Student Living - formed in 2010 by Watkins Jones Group - will operate the scheme if/when the scheme gets the go-ahead in the coming months.

Certainly one to keep an eye on!

All images the property of Glenn Howells Architects

TWITTER: Buildsweare
INSTAGRAM: Itsyourbirmingham

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30 passion points
Health & wellbeing
14 Jan 2021 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

When the Air Ambulance flies patients to hospitals in Birmingham

At least three Air Ambulance services fly to the hospitals in Birmingham, over the last decade or so. The main one of course is the Midlands Air Ambulance (red helicopter). There is also the Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance (yellow helicopter). Plus sometimes the Wales Air Ambulance (red helicopter with green). They go to either Birmingham Children's Hospital or QEHB.

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When the Air Ambulance flies patients to hospitals in Birmingham





At least three Air Ambulance services fly to the hospitals in Birmingham, over the last decade or so. The main one of course is the Midlands Air Ambulance (red helicopter). There is also the Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance (yellow helicopter). Plus sometimes the Wales Air Ambulance (red helicopter with green). They go to either Birmingham Children's Hospital or QEHB.


Midlands Air Ambulance

It was during May 2011, when I got my first photo of the Midlands Air Ambulance. It was on the helipad near James Watt Queensway. On one of my many walks from work to get some lunch, saw it as I came off Aston Street (Aston University). Only had my then mobile on me. Police usually stop all traffic around the area. Including Corporation Street and at the Birmingham Children's Hospital on Steelhouse Lane.

 

The next time I saw it was around April 2013. Again mobile shots as I didn't want to take my then big camera to work with me at the time. This view of the Midlands Air Ambulance from Ryder Street.

Crossed over the lights on James Watt Queensway and got this view towards the Birmingham Children's Hospital.

Caught it taking off as I walked back to work via the Aston University grounds. Corporation Street to the left.

The Midlands Air Ambulance was on it's way as seen from James Watt Queensway. I think this was near a bus stop. The new Aston University student accommodation phase 2 was under construction at the time, and the old Stafford Tower would not get demolished until 2014.

 

In July 2014, I saw the Midlands Air Ambulance from the Aston Webb Boulevard in Selly Oak (the Selly Oak Bypass). It was heading towards the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham.

 

During April 2017, on a walk down the Merritt's Brook Greenway in Northfield. Saw the Midlands Air Ambulance fly overhead. I was near Meadow Brook at the time. This was not too far from Ley Hill Park.

 

In December 2017, I saw this Midlands Air Ambulance heading to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham.

Would assume the Midlands Air Ambulance was heading to the helipad, although I've never seen it myself.

This one is G-OMAA. It is a Airbus Helicopters H135. It is operated by Babcock MCS Onshore.

 

Saw the Midlands Air Ambulance again, this time during July 2018. The view from near the Bourn Brook Walkway in Harborne and I was on Arosa Drive at the time. Was walking to Quinton Road. It was G-OMAA again.

 

In May 2019, near The Bull Ring Indoor Market, was a Midlands Air Ambulance car (7064), next to a West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust ambulance (4323). They were seen from Edgbaston Street and Gloucester Street, also near the Bull Ring Outdoor Market (the Rag Market is to the left off camera).

 

A few months later, during August 2019, and I was in the Library of Birmingham, getting views from the Secret Garden. When I zoomed down to Bridge Street between Arena Central and the Hyatt Regency Birmingham, and saw the Midlands Air Ambulance car (7064) again. That was the year when the Westside Metro Extension to Centenary Square was getting completed. Library Tram Stop opened here by December 2019.

 

Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance

I first saw the Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance in February 2012. I was on Moor Street Queensway, and had my then bridge camera on me, so got some decent views. It was near Hotel La Tour and the McLaren Building, heading to the helipad at Birmingham Children's Hospital.

Seen here passing the McLaren Building. Years before Exchange Square was built they could fly around here, but this route is no longer possible for Air Ambulances.

 

In August 2013 I saw the Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance on the helipad from James Watt Queensway. Again a mobile shot, on one of my lunchtime walks from work to get lunch. As per usual, the Police sealed off all the surrounding roads, as the paramedics took the patient to the Birmingham Children's Hospital.

 

Wales Air Ambulance

I first saw the Wales Air Ambulance landed on the helipad at Birmingham Children's Hospital from James Watt Queensway during November 2014. This one is a bit rare coming to Birmingham. The Teenage Cancer Trust building is behind.

 

The last time I saw the Wales Air Ambulance was from Bournville during September 2019. I was on Oak Tree Lane, walking from Selly Manor to the Serbian Orthodox Church during Birmingham Heritage Week. I haven't seen this helicopter again since then.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown. Can be found on Twitter: ellrbrown

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60 passion points
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