Progress at Commonwealth Games venues

With one year until Birmingham’s Commonwealth Games begin, a number of projects are still underway.

The Sandwell Aquatics Centre in June this year. Picture by Shaun Fellows / Shine Pix Ltd
The Sandwell Aquatics Centre in June this year. Picture by Shaun Fellows / Shine Pix Ltd

The Covid pandemic has already taken a toll on proceedings, with organisers announcing the Athletes’ Village in Perry Barr would not be ready in time for the Games.

Competitors will instead be housed at various locations, while the site – now known as the Perry Barr Residential Scheme – is still due to welcome residents after the Games have finished.

To mark the milestone date on July 28, work is still ongoing at various sites ahead of the Games.

Alexander Stadium

The stadium in Perry Barr will be the main venue for the Games and is currently undergoing a £72 million refurbishment.

Birmingham 2022 organisers have said the work is “on budget and on schedule to be completed in Spring 2022” – and is due to host athletics and the Games’ opening and closing ceremonies.

Pictures from earlier this month show how the work is taking shape – with work ongoing to expand spectator capacity for the Games.

Speaking in June, Matt Kidson, director of sport for Birmingham 2022 said progress in the last 12 months “has been phenomenal”.

Sandwell Aquatics Centre

The £73 million works at Sandwell Aquatics Centre in Smethwick recently hit a milestone as tiling of the main competition pool to be used in Games began.

Some 190,000 tiles will be used at the centre altogether, with 41,500 in the competition pool, 32,500 in the dive pool, 10,000 in the studio pool and 67,000 in other areas of the facility.

Speaking in June, Ian Reid, chief executive of Birmingham 2022, said: “It has been great to get back on site and the Sandwell Aquatics Centre is looking incredible.

“There has been so much progress in the last 12 months and the credit for that must go to Sandwell Council and its construction partner.

“You can now really get a sense of how the only new build venue for our event, the Sandwell Aquatics Centre, will look during the Games.

“This a key competition site for Birmingham 2022, as more medals will be decided here than at any other Games venue.”

Smithfield

Smithfield may currently look a bit like a wasteland but following planning permission granted last week, the city centre site is set to host basketball and beach volleyball next year.

A series of temporary structures are set to be put up on the site before being taken away by September of next year – with much larger plans in store for the area in the long term.

A £1.9 billion development at the site will see the creation of a new home for Birmingham’s historic Bull Ring Markets, shops, a hotel and a new public square to be used for activities including festivals and community and arts events.

Perry Barr station

The £31 million redevelopment of Perry Barr station began with the demolition of the existing building in May.

Construction is now under way on the new station while work on a new bus interchange outside the One Stop Shopping centre will start in the autumn.

The project, led by Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) and the West Midlands Rail Executive (WMRE) is due to be completed by spring next year.

At the same time, A34 improvement works being led by Birmingham City Council are due to be completed by the end of this year.

University station

The redeveloped University Station, near the University of Birmingham, is not scheduled to be completed in time for the Games but will be “usable” – and is reportedly due to open a day before the Games start.

The station will then fully open to the public in the autumn of next year.

The site is expected to be able to accommodate seven million people per year, and will include a larger, modern station and enhanced facilities including more lifts, a ticket office, shop and public toilets.

A West Midlands Combined Authority spokesperson said: “Key milestones due this autumn are the installations of two bridges – one over the railway line and the other over the adjacent canal – and the railway line will be closed on several Sundays throughout the year for these installations and preparatory works to happen.

“Customer information is available at tfwm.org.uk/university-station. The existing station will also continue to be in service throughout the period, other than that small number of Sunday closures.”

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