A row has broken out over plans to spend £1million on designs to pedestrianise Corporation Street, even though Birmingham City Council has not yet given its approval to the scheme.
Transport authority Centro said it will spend the cash this financial year on drawing up designs as part of a city Bus Mall project which will stop vehicles travelling on the road.
But its plans were criticised by Coun Jerry Evans (Lib Dem, Springfield) who said it was foolish to spend money on a scheme that had not yet received approval.
During a meeting of the Transport Authority, Coun Evans said: “I do not recall Birmingham agreeing to pedestrianise Corporation Street.
“It would be foolish to spend money on this now, when we do not know if Birmingham has said that they are going to pedestrianise it.
“We will end up with lots of angry residents deposited in the wrong places if this goes ahead.”
In a report on the Capital Programme of Spending for 2009-10 to 2014-15, Centro finance and planning director James Aspinall outlined five major capital schemes. These include Centro Smartcards, Birmingham Gateway, Wolverhampton Interchange, Longbridge Transport Hub, and work on the Birmingham Bus Mall.
Mr Aspinall’s report states that Centro will use £1million to progress detailed bus mall design requirements. It continues: “Design work on the Bus Mall is nearing completion and this will assist in the more efficient movement of buses in the city centre, given the move to pedestrianisation within Corporation Street.
“The £1million expenditure in 2009-10 will be used to progress the detailed design requirements.”
The report also outlines that a further £11million will be used between 2011 and 2014 to continue works on the scheme but the vice-chairman of Centro and Birmingham city councillor Len Clark said: “We will move to consider the pedestrianisation of Corporation Street. We have not said we were going to do it.”
The issue of pedestrianising Corporation Street has come back on the agenda due to the Big City Plan which outlines how the city centre could be planned for the next 20 years.
Centro obtained a Transport Works Act Order, which allows them to carry on with the extension of the Metro Line 1 along Bull Street, Corporation Street, through Victoria Square to Broad Street.
This option would necessitate the removal of buses on Corporation Street in favour of the tram.
Planners believe that doing this would create a bigger appetite for the Metro because there will be a direct service from the city centre to New Street Gateway.