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Planning green light for HS2’s Balsall Common Viaduct

Planning approval has been given for HS2’s Balsall Common Viaduct in Warwickshire.

Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council has given the go-head to plans which incorporate local feedback focusing on environmental sustainability, landscape integration, visual connectivity and public access.

The project is being led by HS2’s main works contractor, Balfour Beatty VINCI (BBV), supported by a design joint venture of Mott MacDonald and SYSTRA together with architects Weston Williamson + Partners. 

They have engaged with people in the local area over the last couple of years to gather feedback on the viaduct - a 425-metre-long section of the UK’s new zero-carbon high speed rail line.

HS2 senior project manager for Balsall Common, Alan Payne, said: “We’ve engaged with the community and local councillors over the last couple of years to incorporate their feedback as much as possible.

“We also thank the officers and local councillors who have worked with us to agree additional conditions, as part of the decision. We look forward to working with them in the weeks and months ahead to enable these to be discharged.

“We’re confident that our plans respect and enhance the local history and natural environment of the area and will provide new green areas for people and wildlife to enjoy.”

HS2's Independent Design Panel had described the viaduct as "a significant and elegant structure which responds sensitively to its context and delivers a high-quality landscape" in its final pre-Schedule 17 report. 

Understanding the landscape context was a key focus of the design, plans include wet woodland planting using native species to the local area, woodland edge planting to provide screening and hedgerow planting to improve wildlife connections.

BBV will construct a total of 16 piers to carry the viaduct 10m above ground, crossing over Station Road, Bayleys Brook, Heart of England Way Walk and the local floodplain. 

Construction refinements have reduced the size of each pier by as much as 17% for single piers and 28% for double piers, giving the structure a lighter appearance. 

Responding to feedback about the look of the viaduct, a section at Station Road will be finished with a bespoke pattern, referencing the local history of the area.

The approval comes with conditions that there will be further engagement and more work will be undertaken on the colour and finishes of the concrete and the type of tree planting around the viaduct.

If you would like to contact Karen McLauchlan about this, or any other story, please email kmclauchlan@infrastructure-intelligence.com.