Our priority is to minimise disruption for communities wherever possible. We are very mindful of the impact of our works in the Balsall Common area, and the widespread interest in local traffic arrangements, which we have been discussing with the community and key stakeholders for several years.
As a result of those discussions, we have developed a proposal for an alternative route for our construction traffic, known as a ‘haul route’, which has been specifically designed to lessen our traffic impacts on the wider community. It represents a significant improvement on the traffic routes and traffic numbers indicated in the HS2 Phase One Act and the accompanying Environmental Statement. The proposal is currently being considered by the local highway’s authority, Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council.
Whereas the original route uses the existing road network and runs through the centre of Balsall Common, our alternative proposals involve the use of a haul route, running along the ‘trace’ of the future railway route. The plan is to access the haul route from Hallmeadow Road, reducing our overall impact. This includes reducing the volume of lorries through the overall area, reducing the distance travelled on public roads, avoiding the use of less suitable roads like Waste Lane and taking traffic away from residential properties, shops, pubs, a library, and a school.
We have submitted this proposal after consulting with the community and councillors and listening to their feedback.
Frequently asked questions
Why have alternative routes not been considered? Why can’t you use the trace from the Park Lane compound to the Waste Lane compound?
As we have developed the detailed design of the railway, we have considered several alternative options to minimise disruption as much as possible in this area.
The default would be to use the proposal as set out in the HS2 Phase One Act, but this would result in the use of less suitable roads like Waste Lane and it would mean construction traffic travelling through the centre of the village close to residential properties, shops, pubs, a library, and a school.
Another alternative would be avoiding the use of Hallmeadow Road, via a continuous haul route between HS2’s compounds in the area, using the full trace of the future railway. We do eventually intend use the full trace of the railway as a haul route, but this can only be achieved once a permanent bridge over the West Coast Main Line has been constructed. Our proposal is to use Hallmeadow Road to access the trace, until the permanent structure is complete, after which our use of Hallmeadow Road would decrease.
Creating the continuous haul route along the trace, will require construction of a permanent bridge and embankments over the West Coast Main Line. There are major infrastructure assets that require Network Rail consent for working around and over the railway. We would build the crossing as quickly as practicably possible. We currently estimate this would take three years to complete. An alternative was a temporary crossing of the West Coast Mail Line, but this is not a viable option. In particular, it would bring further disruption to the local highway network and local rail services, extend the overall construction programme and increase impacts on the community. It would also require us to use the Act route, through the centre of the village, to facilitate construction of any temporary bridge.
Constructing a temporary bridge over the West Coast Mainline is effectively the same as building the permanent structure, requiring large embankments and a bridge 10 metres above existing ground levels. It would be unlikely to be completed any earlier than the permanent structure and would ultimately need to be removed afterwards, creating further traffic through the centre of the village.
When will the haul road be completed?
Subject to permission and consents, the haul road will be completed in around one year’s time.
How many vehicles will be using this route? Is it true that 400 vehicles will be going through the village?
This is a five-year construction programme and for much of the time over that period, the average lorry numbers will be around 80-100, and this number would of course be considerably less towards the end of construction.
At the peak of construction – which is two periods of around 5 months during the earthmoving work, there may be around 200 lorries using Hallmeadow Road per day. Through our latest design planning we have been able to reduce this number from the original number in the hybrid Bill by around 50%.
Will you restrict parking on Hallmeadow Road? How will you mitigate any displaced parking spaces?
Our proposal would restrict parking on Hallmeadow Road. We understand there are concerns over parking, and we are looking at a number of options to provide a solution. We will continue to liaise with Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council and aim to put a solution in place as soon as possible, this will be subject to a separate consenting process.
The proposed haul route goes close to some properties on Station Road, how will you mitigate this?
Mitigation proposals will be finalised at the detailed design stage but will likely include the installation of physical noise barriers and earth bunds.
When is the main civils work in Balsall Common going to be completed?
The full works programme is around five years.