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Green light for final key structures to bring HS2 into Birmingham

15 April 2024
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The Business Magazine article image for: Green light for final key structures to bring HS2 into Birmingham
The proposed Saltley Viaduct, as seen from the railway. Image: HS2

The construction of two new viaducts to bring HS2 into Birmingham has been approved by local councils, marking a significant milestone for the project.

These represent two of the eight ‘key design elements’ (KDEs) on the West Midlands leg of HS2. All eight KDEs are structures which are identified as being significant because of their size, proximity to communities, or location within sensitive areas.

The first is the River Blythe Viaduct, which has received planning approval from Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council.

A 475-metre low-lying structure just south of the new HS2 Interchange Station in Solihull, it’s designed to skim the flat, agricultural landscape as it crosses the River Blythe, the floodplain and Meriden Road near Hampton in Arden.

Feedback from the local community has been incorporated into the planning of the construction of this viaduct, particularly regarding tree planting and protecting the local environment in the areas near the river which are designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Meanwhile, Saltley Viaduct has secured approval from Birmingham City Council.

This will be a 225-metre structure located two miles north-east of Birmingham city centre, and will take the B4144 road over the HS2 line, the Birmingham and Warwick Junction Canal, the Birmingham and Derby rail line and the River Rea.

It’s set to serve as an important crossing point, providing access to the city centre and the wards of Nechells and Alum Rock.

A wider pathway to make room for cyclists, additional lighting, and replacing stainless steel material with weathering steel panels and a perforated pattern, were key requirements from local people, which have all been incorporated.

Stephen Powell, head of delivery for HS2, said: “Achieving these two KDE planning approvals is a significant milestone for the project.

“It’s been hugely important for us to engage and consult with communities as we reach the final design stages of these key structures in the West Midlands, and we’re very grateful for the feedback they have provided.

“Our designers have incorporated local feedback in all of these KDE structures, including enhanced environmental features, use of materials and additional amenities such as footpaths and cycling tracks in the areas around them, ensuring that we have the best outcome for everyone.”

Nick McGough is director at Weston Williamson + Partners and lead architect for the Balfour Beatty VINCI Design Joint Venture, which is designing HS2 in the West Midlands.

He added: “All of HS2 needs to be designed sensitively, but KDE structures in particular were identified through the parliamentary process due to their scale and significance.

“The whole team has worked incredibly hard for over six years to engage local communities in a process which has involved local authorities, key stakeholders and the HS2 Independent Design Panel.

“The approvals received for the River Blythe Viaduct and Saltley Viaduct complete the set of KDEs in the West Midlands which will bring HS2 into central Birmingham, whilst contributing positively to local communities.”


Born and raised in Berkshire, Dan fell into journalism after completing his bachelor’s degree in English at UCL.

Writing for The Business Magazine and local Biz News sites has given him the opportunity to chat with all manner of small business owners and share their success stories with a wider audience.

Outside of work, Dan enjoys live music, board games and quiz shows, and is making a slow but persistent effort to learn Spanish.

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