Councillors vote to distance incomplete athletes' village from Commonwealth Games

Councillors have voted to strip any references to the Commonwealth Games from the housing development which would have been the city’s Athletes’ Village.

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

The athletes' village at the former BCU City North Campus in Perry Barr was touted as a key part of the legacy for the city’s successful hosting of the games.

Although it was delayed by Covid, city bosses are now ready to forge ahead with the development after the conclusion of the Games – but have voted for all references to the Games to be struck out of planning documents.

The university campus was originally intended to be a temporary home for world-class competitors and then be transformed into residential blocks after the games. But, after the completion of the athlete’s village was set back by coronavirus, athletes were instead housed in three “campus” villages at the University of Birmingham, the University of Warwick, and the NEC Hotel Campus.

At today’s Birmingham City Council Planning meeting an application has now received the green light to remove all references to the Games from the planning documents of the failed athletes’ site.

One councillor, whilst recommending the application, said it is “ironic that one of the biggest legacies of the Commonwealth Games wants to remove all reference to it.”

The former athlete’s village will be converted into a huge development of 1,146 residential units, 268 extra care apartments, commercial floorspace, and a community centre.

The controversial athletes' village is one of a number of sidetracked projects proposed for the games. This includes the new Perry Barr Railway Station, which was downgraded from its original design and a scaled-down bus station which was meant for the Sprint rapid transit system which has been delayed.

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

“That has meant that unfortunately the Games Village is not going to be deliverable for the athletes and the officials and we’ve had to make alternative arrangements for that. Nonetheless, those 1,000 housing units are still going to be delivered to help towards our housing needs and they will still be a catalyst for a further 5,000 new homes in the Perry Barr region.

“Our vision document for Perry Barr over the next 20 years is that we’re going to create a place where people choose to live and choose to visit – one of the most connected places by public transport and sustainable transport in the entirety of the city. So we’ve got that benefit from the bid to host the games, notwithstanding the Covid pandemic intervening.”

The University Railway station was another project tipped for completion in time for the Games by council chiefs. But, a week after the Games have finished the station is still a building site.

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

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

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