Birmingham HS2 viaduct poll results

March 9th, 2024

High Speed 2 are using Visual Preference Surveys (VPSs) for the first time giving the public a final say on the appearance of a viaduct design on Balsall Common near Solihull. This is commendable. However, all is not as good as it seems. The actual choice being offered (parapet design) is fairly secondary and reporting in the local media implies that most locally regard the viaduct’s overall design as very ugly and careless of the landscape. Would a different approach have been more popular? Create Streets therefore followed the idea of the local MP, Saqib Bhatti, and worked up an alternative design of red brick arches. We then inserted a CGI of our design into one of the visualisations for Balsall Common Viaduct and used our refined visual preference survey techniques, working with Deltapoll, to survey public preferences.


The results were clear:

  • A very clear public preference for the red brick design. The British public overwhelmingly preferred the red brick arch design by 69 per cent to 28 per cent
  • A particularly emphatic result in the Midlands… 72 per cent of the those in the Midlands preferred the red brick arch design with only 26 per cent disagreeing.
  • …a preference that transcends politics… Voters for all three main British parties strongly preferred the more traditional design with Conservative voters being closest to the national average (69 vs 26 per cent for Conservative voters; 72 vs 26 per cent for Labour voters and 67 versus 30 per cent for Lib Dem voters).
  • A more attractive and popular viaduct would cost more but only a bit compared to the billions being spent fighting public resistance. Although brick cladding over a concrete frame is probably the right approach, brick arches would undoubtedly add cost, in the millions for materials and construction. However, this is small compared to the overall budget for a deeply disputed and contested project of around £100 billion.

You can read more and access the full report here and the polling numbers here.

As covered in Birmingham Live here