Alexander Stadium plans 'could help boost Birmingham's profile' despite concerns

Black Sabbath perform during the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games Closing Ceremony at Alexander Stadium in 2022
-Credit: (Image: Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

Plans for a revised lighting scheme at Alexander Stadium have been recommended for approval despite concerns from local residents. The redevelopment of the stadium, found in Perry Barr, has been one of the more high-profile projects in Birmingham in recent years amid ambitions to put the city on the world sporting map.

The international athletics venue played a pivotal role during the 2022 Commonwealth Games, hosting the opening and closing ceremonies, as well as the athletics competition. Now there are hopes new plans for the stadium could help continue to boost the city’s profile both nationally and internationally.

They include proposals for the erection of two additional lighting columns of 40 metres in height at the north and south ends of the stadium. The plans have been recommended for approval, subject to conditions, ahead of a planning committee meeting being held next Thursday, June 13.

READ MORE: Alexander Stadium plans recommended for approval despite concerns from residents

The other elements included in the proposals are as follows:

  • The retention and adaptation of the four existing lighting columns by removing the existing 15m headframes and replacing them with 10m headframes.

  • The installation of additional canopy mounted lighting to the east and west stands.

  • The temporary retention of four catenary frames erected around existing floodlighting columns, until up to 2030.

A council officer’s report says the approved sports lighting scheme at the stadium would not support the requirements of hosting the European Championships in 2026 or other tenant broadcasting requirements. “As such, this application proposes a revised lighting scheme design to mitigate the need for further costly ‘overlay’ lights to be installed and to minimise the future disruption around their installation,” it continued.

The report went on to say that for general weekly use, the lighting would utilise the lower level of 200 lux, with the lights turned off at 10pm at the latest - in line with the existing approved lighting scheme. “Higher levels of lighting, between 800 lux and 1,500 lux, would be in use much less frequently,” the report said.

The Commonwealth Games ends in style with a fireworks display at Alexander Stadium
The Commonwealth Games ends in style with a fireworks display at Alexander Stadium -Credit: Jacob King/PA Wire

“To deliver on Birmingham City Council’s Business Case, the stadium has secured a number of events which will require higher lux lighting (primarily to facilitate TV broadcasting), including the European Athletics Championships in 2026 and two 2-day concerts in 2025.”

15 letters of objection were received from local residents according to the report however, with concerns over the impact of lighting on people’s amenity and wildlife. The report stated that the addition of two new lighting columns and canopy mounted lights would not increase the levels of ambient light in the day-to-day operation of the Alexander Stadium.

It continued that when floodlights are in use, it is anticipated that there would be an “increase in light spill” compared to the current situation. However, it said the changes to the night-time views from nearby properties would be “barely noticeable”.

“For the majority of the time, lighting levels will be such that there would be no undue impact on the living conditions of those living nearby or on bat species using the adjacent canal corridor,” the report said. It also highlighted the fact that there will only be a handful of events that will go past the 10pm curfew and require higher lux lighting, as well as measures such as glare shields.

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The report concluded by saying: “It is considered that the public benefits arising from the proposals are positive. There is very limited evident harm arising in relation to other technical matters and officers do not feel that the impacts of the development should tip the planning balance in favour of refusal.”

“The application delivers a sustainable development that meets wider aspirations of Birmingham being promoted as an international city,” it added. Meanwhile National Highways have asked their lighting engineers to review the proposals due to the proximity of the site to the M6 motorway and will provide an updated response “as soon as possible”.

The planning application has therefore been recommended for approval, subject to either no objection or the imposition of any conditions requested by National Highways.

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