Motorists are being blocked from entering Birmingham city centre through a well-used route after new bus gate traffic restrictions were put in place.
Christmas shoppers visiting Birmingham’s hard-pressed city centre retailers are being stopped by the measures now prevent motorists from passing right along Moor Street Queensway in either direction.
There are now U-turns in place either side of a stretch close to the back of the High Street Marks & Spencer – though its collection area still remains accessible.
The timing of the changes coincides with the Christmas shopping season of dark nights and rain – and when stores were already struggling after being closed for two lockdowns lasting 111 days between them.
Even before the year of Covid-19, we noted 13 months ago that one in five units on New Street was not trading at the start of the November 2019 Birmingham German Christmas Market.
Since then, major names including Forever 21 and GAP have quit the Bullring and even the German Market has been scrapped this year in what should have been its 21st year.
Retail giant John Lewis announced in July it was closing its four-floor purpose built Grand Central department store – two months before staff could even celebrate its firth birthday.
This week, Debenhams – which has anchored the opposite end of the Bullring to Selfridges ever since the giant complex opened on September 4, 2003 – confirmed it was heading towards full liquidation after 242 years of trading.
Meawhile its Bullring neighbours Topman and Topshop also face an uncertain future thanks to the meltdown at the Arcadia group which also owns brands like Dorothy Perkins, Wallis, Evans, Miss Selfridge and Burton.
With the city currently stuck in Tier 3 just below full lockdown status in the year of Covid-19, you might think the struggling lords of the high street couldn’t take any more blows after only reopening on December 2.
The move reflects Birmingham City Council plans to get people out of cars and onto public transport.
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Our campaign, Grant a Christmas #BrumWish, aims to help buy presents for more than 1,000 youngsters cramped together, sharing beds, in soulless rooms in B&Bs, and others who will be in a Women’s Aid refuge.
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Its latest changes to Moor Street Queensway also impact visitors to Thinktank and Birmingham Children’s Hospital as well as major retail centres like the Bullring.
The new bus gate stops people from driving towards the Bullring from the direction of the A47 (the road past Millennium Point) or from James Watt Queensway (between Aston University and Birmingham Children’s Hospital).
And anyone driving past Selfridges towards Marks & Spencer will also be unable to continue as far as Carrs Lane never mind continue towards the A47.
Birmingham City Council says: “The bus gate now prevents general traffic from travelling between Moor Street Station and Carrs Lane in either direction.
“Only buses, cyclists and hackney carriages are now permitted.”
The impact of this closure is even more significant because Park Street – which ran parallel on the other side of The Masshouse apartments, Clayton Hotel and Albert Street Car Park – has been permanently closed because of work to build HS2.
City council statement in full
“If you are travelling by private vehicle, you must approach from the Digbeth side (leave the Middleway at Camp Hill or Bordesley Circus) for access to:
- Bullring car park
- Selfridges Moor Street car park
- Moor Street station loading and drop off bays
“You must approach from the Moor Street Queensway (north) side (leave the Middleway at A47, the old Ashted Circus) for access to:
- M&S collection area
- Carrs Lane and Albert Street
“Please check your route before you travel, as you may now need to leave the Middleway Ring Road at a different point to reach your destination.
“For example, Thinktank and Birmingham Children’s Hospital can only be reached from the north, and locations in Digbeth can only be reached from the east or south.
“Space to make a U-turn is provided on both sides of the bus gate: you do not need to use Carrs Lane and Albert Street specifically to avoid the bus gate.”
What else is happening?
In Birmingham city centre, a major series of changes has limited the way private drivers can move around.
Motorists, who may not have been into the city for months, will need to a) to read the signs and follow the new routes and b) to read the signs and avoid £60 fines that are incurred if you drive into bus lanes or through bus gates.
Through traffic should now use the middle ring road or the A38 Queensway Tunnel system.
Roads which are still out of action during long term closures include lower Broad Street and Paradise Queensway (closed September 4, 2018); Five Ways Underpass (closed June 3, 2019).
Colmore Circus next to the front of Lloyd House police HQ has bus gates in both directions to prevent motorists from this part of the city driving to or from the Colmore Row area.
There is also a third bus gate here in between the The Royal Angus Hotel / NCP Car Park and St Chad’s Cathedral. Southbound drivers can no longer turn left into Snow Hill Queensway or cross St Chad’s Circus.
Instead, they have to do a U-turn back to the old Aston Fire Station building next to Lancaster Circus, ready to rejoin the A38 Queensway in order to access the Colmore Business District via the tunnel under St Chad’s Queensway and the Great Charles Queensway slip.
The Colmore Business District has no access to the New Street Station area, unless you take Snow Hill Queensway to enter the A38 Queensway tunnel (southbound).
The Sheepcote Street lane towards Broad Street has a 60-metre bus lane that has generated fines worth a potential £5.4 million in its first year of operation.
Since that was officially launched in October, 2019 various other roads have been restricted in the Jewellery Quarter (no access to and from the island at Sandpits) and Southside (Bromsgrove Street and Wrentham Street have been closed from Bristol Street).
Southbound drivers on Bristol Street now have to head towards Belgrave Middleway ready to turn left and left again into Sherlock Street before heading towards the Arcadian and the Bull Ring Indoor, Rag and Open Markets via Pershore Street.