Birmingham’s Failed Athletes’ Village stands out from the Commonwealth Games

The former Athletes’ Village at Perry Barr. Photo: Birmingham City Council

The Athletes’ Village at the former BCU City North campus in Perry Barr was touted as a key legacy for the city’s successful hosting of the games.

Although it has been delayed by Covid, city bosses are ready to move forward with development – but have voted to remove all references to the Games being scratched from planning documents.

The university campus was originally intended to be a temporary home for world-class competitors, then to be turned into residential blocks after the games. But, after the completion of the athletes’ village was delayed by coronavirus, athletes have been accommodated in three ‘campus’ villages at the University of Birmingham, University of Warwick and the NEC Hotel Campus.

At today’s Birmingham City Council planning meeting, a request has now been given the green light to remove all references to the CWG from the Missed Athletes Site planning documents.

An adviser, while recommending the bid, said it was “ironic that one of the Commonwealth Games’ greatest legacies wanted to remove all reference to it”.

The former Athletes’ Village will be converted into a large development of 1,146 residential units, 268 additional care apartments, retail space and a community centre.

The controversial Athletes’ Village is one of many backdoor projects proposed for the Games. This includes the new Perry Barr Rail Station, which has been downgraded from its original design, and a scaled-down bus station which was intended for the delayed Sprint rapid transit system.

Councilor Ian Ward said: ‘Who would have predicted that in the middle of those four years we would have had two years of the Covid pandemic?

“This means that unfortunately the Games Village will not be available for athletes and officials and we have had to make other arrangements for this. Nevertheless, these 1,000 accommodations will still be delivered to meet our accommodation needs and they will still be a catalyst for an additional 5,000 new homes in the Perry Barr area.

“Our vision document for Perry Barr over the next 20 years is that we will create a place where people choose to live and visit – one of the most connected places by public transport and sustainable transport in all so we have this advantage of bidding to host the games, despite the intervention of the Covid pandemic.

The University Railway Station was another project launched for the completion of the CWG by council leaders. But, a week after the end of the games, the station is still under construction.

In response, a representative from Transport for West Midlands and the West Midlands Combined Authority said: “We are committed to delivering improvements to University Station ready for the Commonwealth Games. The platforms and extended covers were completed and used for the Games, allowing for a more comfortable and safer experience for the thousands of visitors.

“However, the final elements of the station will be completed later this year and we look forward to opening the remaining buildings then.”

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