The Birmingham Metropolis, also known as West Midlands Urban Area, viewed from Space. Over 2.5 million people live in this built up area. Wolverhampton is middle-left and Birmingham is middle-right. Dudley is lower-centre and Walsall is upper-centre, the eye of Sutton Park to the top-right of Walsall. Cannock is far top-left. Solihull is far-right of photo. The Ridge of Barr Beacon and Sandwell Valley cutting down through the centre of the photo separate the Black Country (left) from the City of Birmingham (right). Photo is orientated north-eastwards.

Birmingham is a city in the West Midlands county of England. The city has a population of just over 1,000,000 with a high ethnic percentage.

History[edit | edit source]

It is a city steeped in industrial heritage and generated wealth through this. The vast array of industries and factories within the city resulted in vast slums being constructed close to the city and the factories. It expanded at a rapid rate, requiring it to absorb massive amounts of surrounding land. Industry died down during the early 20th century but still retained a buzz.

Housing development[edit | edit source]

During the Second World War, it suffered heavily at the hands of the German bombers. It was one of the most heavily bombed cities in the country because of its industry. However, it also suffered heavily after the war to the developers who took advantage of the anti-Victorianism feeling in the city and the expiration of 99 year long leases on buildings with fine Victorian grandeur. The developers promptly demolished these. Again, Birmingham became an expanding city and as house construction in the interwar period had failed to sufficiently sort the problem, a new solution was needed. Many houses had also been destroyed in the war, and the dislike of the Victorian slums which consisted of terraced & back to back houses. The need to redevelop these was important. Birmingham designated five redevelopment areas in need of regeneration and postwar construction was focused up on these areas which had been slums or heavily bombed. Birmingham became a nest for tower blocks and council estates thus giving it the name "concrete jungle", which was further reinforced by the construction of elevated motorways, flyovers and concrete office buildings which made the city skyline an enormous density.

Between 1945 and 1979, over 400 tower blocks were constructed in the city by Birmingham City Council under the eye of Sir Herbert Manzoni and various city architects. The first of these was the Duddeston Four in the Duddeston and Nechells Redevelopment Area.

Large overspill estates were built such as the notorious Castle Vale estate, which has now been totally redeveloped with the demolition of over 30 tower blocks just leaving two. Another was Chelmsley Wood which has not witnessed and benefited from similar redevelopment of that in Castle Vale.

In recent years, Birmingham has absorbed other areas, such as Sutton Coldfield and has commenced a major demolition programme. Dozens of tower blocks have been demolished and large council estates have been wiped off the map such as Lee Bank. The inner ring road and Bull Ring were totally removed and redeveloped.

The city is now vibrant and modern with a variety of cultural aspects. It is the second largest city in the UK.

Many private estates have been built with low rise semi-detached houses and detached houses built in a better quality to those of the postwar period, though they have been criticised for their lack of ingenuity in design. Birmingham is set to expand again with a demand for more homes; 200,000 need to be built by 2030 according to the city council and Green Belt land on the edge of the city has recently been released for development and given the go-ahead for house building. It continues to redevelop and the population continues to grow, despite a slowing and partial decrease in recent years.

Birmingham Metropolis[edit | edit source]

The Birmingham Metropolis is an Urban Area covering the City of Birmingham, City of Wolverhampton, Walsall, West Bromwich, Dudley, Solihull and towns such as Cannock on the edge of the dense urban area. The city is still trying to understand it's identity with many of it's areas masking a tribal mindset, with fears of their local towns further being suppressed and ignored by central government if recognized under a single name. This is justified with the lack of money spent in these areas by the government, with other UK cities continuously being handed a better share of money in comparison to its population. Again there are reasons for this, largely due to Birmingham City Council misspending vast amounts of money on fruitless projects and being deemed unable to carry on running the city without government supervision and unprecedented cuts to all it's services.

Recently though it was decided that the region will get it's first ever mayor to run and oversee services such as Transport, Construction and Employment. The candidates have promised to re-open the countless disused railway lines throughout the city to ease the ever-increasing rise in traffic flow. This would also better connect the population via inter-towns within the city i.e. Walsall to Sutton Coldfield, Wednesbury to Bloxwich, Wolverhampton to Walsall, Dudley to south Birmingham (Frankley & Kings Norton)... With an orbital transit system unlocking the potential of the city's workforce which otherwise have little incentive to work outside of their locality due to earnings offset by travel time, it is hoped the generated wealth will help the area bloom and regain it's confidence.

The West Midlands Combined Authority has also just been formed along these lines and for the first time ever, the towns within the area are working together and supporting power being devolved to Birmingham from Central government 120 miles away in London. This is after years of disillusionment with the insular politics of Westminster and London.

For decades the metropolis has been fairly unwilling to work together but will now be united under one mayor, with the outcome in the election being a huge factor come May on the future fortunes for the area. For years it has been regarded (in relation to other major UK cities) as a basket case of under-achievement, high unemployment, a waning economy, dysfunctional ways, with murky vision on how to evolve for the good of it's citizens. The post-industrialized landscape of the area could be re-ignited through cleaner methods of manufacturing and workshop output, with the right goals, strategy, methods and clear vision for the road ahead.

Tower block complexes of Birmingham Metropolis[edit | edit source]

The gravitas (gravity of the town area where the clusters of tower blocks have an attachment to) and determination of Districts takes into account transport links, historical links, ancient districts and newer political boundaries which may not be the best representation of the local populous. A few examples of this:- After the miles and miles of elevated motorway highways were constructed through Birmingham and the Black Country, political wards or boundaries were sliced in two with little or poor links to the other side of the roaring motorways. Great Barr was sliced in two halves by the M6, with the northern half effectively fusing with the post-war housing estates of Kingstanding to become a huge superblock under one B44 postcode. Hamstead falls under Sandwell Council but is very close to Handsworth and Birmingham's main artery roads. Willenhall falls under Walsall Council but suffers from terrible traffic on route to Walsall because of the M6 bottleneck junctions, and has many more routes of getting to Wolverhampton. Smethwick is arguably West Birmingham but some inhabitants identify themselves as separate from any surrounding towns. Chelmsley Wood was built as a housing complex for a huge swathe of the citizens of Birmingham, but finds itself just outside Birmingham City Council's boundaries and lies inside Solihull Council's boundaries, although many of it's inhabitant's feel no connection to the town of Solihull's people. Yew Tree is falls under the West Bromwich town boundary, but has a Walsall postcode; since the M6 was constructed there is just one direct route under the motorway to West Bromwich, but many to the closer town of Walsall. The list of tower block estates below is a common sense breakdown of the West Midland's sky-scraping structures that people live in. A lot of them offered endless views and their piercing stands through the densely populated ancient Forest of Arden acted like reference points in a sprawling city. Many have been bull-dozed or demolished due to social problems and the landscape of the city has greatly changed since the Millennium because of this. Other structure that also once stood tall in the metropolis were Nechells Power Station's 3 cooling towers (now Star City), Ocker Hill Power Station's 3 cooling towers, Birchills Power Station's 6 cooling towers (north Walsall), Wolverhampton Power Station's single cooling tower, and north-east Birmingham's Ham's Hall Power Station with it's 13 cooling towers being an imposing spectacle before their demolition. Numerous Gasometer Towers in Nechells have also been demolished since 2000.

A total of 801 tower blocks were constructed in the Birmingham Metropolis. A further 32 towers were constructed in nearby Coventry and 43 towers were built in the satellite and overspill towns around Birmingham's vicinity.

SATELLITE TOWNS OF BIRM ING HAM METRO POLIS ...... 75 Towers (8 Towers Demolished)

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