Fruiting bodies

02/12/2019 at 4:01 pm | Posted in Food, Gardens, Green Spaces | Leave a comment

In the depths of winter on 1st December, nine people pruned the apple trees at Balsall Heath City Farm to get a better crop next summer. We had a classroom session with Rob Tilling of Let’s Grow Together,  then all went outside and learned practically on the trees: we got into a group snipping away to help the trees avoid damage or disease and to bear the right number of good fruit. The day built our knowledge and confidence to take our pruning into gardens in the area. Balsall Heath Orchard !

Treepruning 2019

Opposition to widening of the Moseley Road

21/11/2019 at 4:33 pm | Posted in Air pollution, Cycling, Streets, Train station, Trees, Walking | Leave a comment
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It appears that the Bus Priority scheme, to widen the main road and reduce the foot ways so as to add another lane of traffic, after cutting down the street trees, is heading for a big Dislike,  Local organisations are objecting and a petition with hundreds of signatures calling for it to be halted  has been collected. The saving to bus passengers would be small and the cost high for our local community. This was the feeling of this month’s Ward Forum, attended by about 40 people, which were unconvinced when local concerns were dismissed as’ myths’ by the officer from Transport West Midlands. It is clear that no-one from Highgate, or Balsall Heath or Moseley was involved at any stage in drawing up these plans, therefore a huge opportunity has been missed to make a scheme that would speed up buses and benefit our communities as well.

Bus lanes may not be universally the right answer to bus travel, just as cycle lanes are not always best thing for cyclists.  Public consultations is set to close on Friday night 22nd November. Beheard website

Bh Footway



More on Road Widening

07/11/2019 at 6:23 pm | Posted in Air pollution, Cycling, Green Spaces, Streets, Train station, Trees, Walking | Leave a comment
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The Ward Forum for Balsall Heath & Sparkbrook will discuss the Moseley Road widening scheme on Wednesday 13th Nov. The 3 Ward councillors will attend, with members of the public. I have been asked to give an explanation of the scheme and its impact. Please come along if you can, since the councillors are there to hear and represent local opinion back to the City Council.

Meeting starts at Balsall Heath Church Centre at 7 pm, but the item is some way down the agenda (attached).

Online, there is an opportunity to comment on the reopening of Kings Heath station, people may want to support it and ask for Balsall Heath to get the same . Use application number 2019/08129/PA here

Birmingham Friends of the Earth’s petition saying No to road widening continues to gather signatures here

Comments on the scheme can be made at Beheard until 22 Nov. BeHeard website

Moseley Road


Is this a Better Balsall Heath ?

26/10/2019 at 12:30 am | Posted in Air pollution, Cycling, Streets, Walking | Leave a comment
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Debate continues over plans to widen Moseley Road.

The public meeting at The Old Print Works on 22 October was strongly critical of the Transport for West Midlands proposals, which we had described to us, to narrow the foot ways, take down the line of trees and fit in another lane of traffic through the centre of Balsall Heath. This seems quite against the core aim of the Neighbourhood Plan to strengthen our local centre.

Many ways to make the existing road function more efficiently can be identified, reducing  the delays to buses,  but this should make the widening unnecessary, it was argued. People want the rail station reopened, rather than the road widened. The full text of the discussion can be had from me John Newson  bhiop[at]

Residents have organised a meeting in Tindal Street on 27 Oct. because many people do not know about this scheme and did not get the city council’s letter about the scheme, or could not read it in English.

A petition is being started by Birmingham Friends of the Earth, in favour of a better bus service, but against the road widening, 

People have asked for, and have got, an extension until 22nd November for public consultation. Only online responses will be taken, through the BeHeard website. You can say which aspects of the scheme you like, or don’t like.

Now Birmingham City Council is to put forward, at the end of November, their big plan to reduce car travel into the city centre, as part of progressing towards a zero carbon city  in Birmingham Transport Plan 2031.


What is the effect of fitting in another lane of traffic, here ?

Widening of the Moseley Road

11/10/2019 at 1:18 pm | Posted in Cycling, Green Spaces, Streets, Walking | 1 Comment
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Widening of the Moseley Road through Balsall Heath is proposed by Birmingham City Council and Transport for WM, so as to make four lanes of traffic. This is to allow bus lanes in both directions, so as to reduce delays to buses in peak periods.

The scheme requires narrowing of foot ways and loss of some mature trees. Other measures include different crossing points for pedestrians, moving of bus stops and changes to permitted parking.

Deadline for public consultation is 8th November. All the documents are on online at Beheard

Your opportunities to learn more…

  • Tuesday 15th October 5.30 to 7.00pm, a display of the full plans and opportunity to question to the council officers responsible Chamberlain Health & Fitness Centre, 1 Belgrave Road, B12 9FF.
  • Tuesday 22 October 6pm to 7-30pm, an evening public meeting to look at and discuss with neighbours the plans at The Gap at the Old Print Works opposite Baths (with café)
  • Thursday 24th October 2pm to 5pm, display of the full plans and opportunity to question to the officers responsible, held at Balsall Heath Library 497 Moseley Road, B12 9BX.

This is an important discussion, so hope to see you at one of the events and to make your views and suggestions known. John Newson, Balsall Heath Is Our Planet

Bh Footway

Moseley Road Garden

30/08/2019 at 8:15 pm | Posted in Gardens, Green Spaces, Streets | Leave a comment

We have completed another phase of the gardening of Moseley Road.  This aims to transform a run-down traffic corridor, lined with parked cars, into an attractive place to walk, sit and converse at the centre of Balsall Heath. Plants and flowers are slowly making it into a welcoming place to be.

For this phase, we had the help of BH City Farm with Hywel and the team from Community Payback to move a number of derelict planters and soil. They were then painted , and are now planted up, using late summer flowering plants with bulbs ready for next spring. Effectively, we have extended the earlier Bee Garden. A space in front of the Old Print Works has become two outdoor “rooms”. Staff from the Mix Community Cafe were quick to set up their tables and chairs and welcome customers. Jeremy, who lives in the Print works, and I were quite weary by this time, but ready for some refreshment, pavement cafe style.

In future, BHIOP will encourage other properties to extend the garden along more of the road, so as to connect with the Pocket Park. Thank you to all the passers by for all their appreciative comments  !                       John Newson



My Backyard Farm

27/08/2019 at 5:06 pm | Posted in Food, Gardens, Green Spaces | Leave a comment

How to get fresh food without even going to the shop ? This summer I have expanded the growing space in my concrete backyard in Balsall Heath, with two large containers full of compost that I made from my garden and kitchen waste. Water in a rain butt is filled up from the gutters.

Crops that I have picked include; lettuce, tomatoes, broad and runner beans, mangetout peas, carrots, courgettes, cucumber, leeks, potatoes, rhubarb, mint, strawberries, rocket and chard. Just pick what i want that day. It is a pleasure not a chore, which others are doing in the area. I know because we swap surpluses and ideas. A standard allotment is too large for most people, but the opportunity for 10 minute growing, outside the back door, is there for many more of us.                      John Newson bhiop[at]






Better Parks Please

02/07/2019 at 11:55 am | Posted in Green Spaces, Walking, Wildlife | Leave a comment

What are the main problems in the parks and green spaces of Balsall Heath?  What changes would make them more attractive and useful for everyone ?

These are questions that BHIOP is looking at in 2019 and 2020. We have received a small grant from the National Lottery Community Fund to involve local people in finding some answers. I have been appointed as Project Officer John Newson bhiop[at]

I hope to meet you at the Commonwealth Carnival in Pickwick Park, St Paul’s Road, on Saturday 6th July from 1 pm to 4.30 pm. We shall collect people’s ideas, using a simple survey about “Better Parks Please”..

BigLottery logo


Path beside the River Rea

Cyclists take over town

09/06/2019 at 6:55 pm | Posted in Cycling, Streets | 1 Comment

Birmingham City Centre was filled with thousands of cyclists, as streets were closed off for us on 9th June for the Let’s Ride event. At least two group rides went in from Balsall Heath, following the Rea Valley Route. We found the Queensway,  usually filled with noise and fumes, to be quiet and family-friendly. Children of all ages were happily riding alongside their parents. Maybe it should be like this every Sunday, as in some other European cities ??

It was also the official opening of the blue cycle path along the Bristol Road from the University into town.  It is amazing… and again not like the Birmingham we have known, with this main road offering cyclists a protected ride every day.

We were told that long promised cycle stands for our area are definitely on the way. Also that Birmingham’s Walking and Cycling about to launch with its consultation, asking for your comments on more routes to come. You can sign up for updates from the Birmingham Connected  mailing list:



Balsall Heath Neighbourhood Plan

01/06/2019 at 9:00 am | Posted in Green Spaces, Streets, Train station, Walking | Leave a comment

We have put up a display in the library for people to learn more about the Neighbourhood Plan. It runs through June.

You can see designs to improve the streets for pedestrians, re-open the station and make better use of the green spaces. It was all based on extensive public consultation, but comments sheets are there for you to add your own ideas for the future of the area.

The library is next to the Baths. Exhibition is free during library opening hours




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