Planning green light for HS2’s ‘operational heart’ in Birmingham

Artist's impression of HS2's maintenance building at Washwood Heath Depot.

A new maintenance facility and main control centre for the whole HS2 network has been granted planning permission.

Birmingham-based Washwood Heath Depot, which will become the operational heart of HS2 and create more than 550 jobs, has been given the green light by Birmngham City Council

At the depot, HS2 trains will be maintained, serviced and stored when not in use.

The depot will also incorporate a maintenance building, a Network Integrated Control Centre (NICC) and a cleaners and drivers building.

Richard Kirkham, HS2’s light systems programme client, said he was pleased Birmingham City Council’s planning committee had approved the plans, which mark “a significant milestone for HS2 in the Midlands”.

“Over 550 jobs will be created by the depot’s operations in a range of disciplines including facilities management, fleet management, production, depot drivers and cleaning,” he said.

“We’re working closely with Birmingham City Council and other stakeholders to maximise these job opportunities for people in the local area.”

Kay Hughes, HS2’s design director, said good functional design had been a vital part of developing the plans for the depot, including ensuring this new large-scale facility contributes to improving a significant area on the outskirts of Birmingham, and streamlining operations for the railway.

All the buildings have been designed to celebrate engineering and provide sustainable working, as well as outdoor amenity spaces for staff. 

The designs have been produced by HS2’s Engineering Delivery Partner (EDP).

Hughes said: “Our design team have worked closely with the council to make sure we deliver the right design for the local area, which we can all be proud of.”

Alan McCartney, partner at Glenn Howells Architects, said: “The Washwood Heath Depot is a true asset for the region, bringing the heart of the HS2 network to Birmingham. 

“Investment in job creation and aspirational standards of sustainable design have guided the development of the architecture and integrated railway infrastructure. 

“Elegant industrial buildings are set within a heathland landscape with staff safety, wellness and operational efficiency at the core of each building’s design.”

He added it is “incredible to see the transformation of the site, which has always been part of the UK’s railway history”. 

“We look forward to the next stages of creating the operational heart of the HS2 railway network,” he said.

The maintenance building will be the primary hub of operations within the site, used to maintain the HS2 train fleet along with facilities to store materials and equipment. 

It includes office accommodation, workshops and staff welfare facilities. 

Around 250 staff will work in the building, including facilities management, fleet management, production, cleaning, and depot drivers.

The Network Integrated Control Centre will oversee the whole HS2 network.

It will be a standalone building, designed to accommodate the operational and management functions of the HS2 network. 

More than 100 staff will be based there.

The cleaners and drivers building is located in the depot’s western area and will host facilities for train servicing teams and driver training. 

This building will be linked to the stabling yard area, where trains will be cleaned and replenished, ready for passenger service. 

Around 200 staff will be based there.

The Stabling Yard area is located towards the west side of the depot site and will be where the trains are parked whilst not in operation.

The design of the buildings has sustainability in mind, providing for a high level of controlled, natural lighting, reducing the need for artificial lighting during the daytime. 

Solar roof panels, reusing rainwater runoff from some of the building roofs, sustainable drainage, renewable energy, low carbon materials and intelligent lighting provide additional environmental benefits during construction and operation.

Accessibility for pedestrians and cyclists has been incorporated into the design, with dedicated pedestrian and cyclist routes connecting with Birmingham’s future transport network. 

In addition to car parks, provision is included for electric vehicle charging points, cycle and motorcycle parking for staff and visitors, and parking for individuals with limited mobility at all depot facilities, alongside taxi and delivery vehicle drop off zones.

Work on site to date includes demolition of buildings and groundworks to prepare the site for the construction of the new Depot and Control Centre.

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