A section of a popular Birmingham beauty spot was dug up as archaeological investigators looked for historical finds ahead of proposed revamp.
The week-long works saw a section of Sutton Park near Boldmere Gate in Sutton Coldfield, checked as part of ‘archaeological pre-investigation’ work, ahead of a planned £770,000 new car park, events space and upgraded electricity supply.
The area was checked for anything of historical interest before a new 221-space car park is constructed, if given the go-ahead by Birmingham City Council ’s planning committee, in advance of the 2022 Commonwealth Games with the site set to host the triathlon events.
The council said studies of the park suggested there could be archaeology at the proposed works site, which often appears as ‘grass patterning’ in dry weather which had been spotted there. This led to investigation work, with some entrances taped off for safety.
In a notice for the works, placed at the site, the city council said: “In preparation for the Commonwealth Games Triathlon coming to Sutton Park in 2022, Birmingham City Council parks department will shortly be commencing a programme of archaeological pre-investigation in this area of the park.
“This work is necessary to determine the presence of any underlying archaeological features and to ensure that Sutton Park’s unique heritage can be suitably safeguarded for future generations.
“We wish to apologise in advance to residents and visitors for any inconvenience caused by necessary temporary closures of specific site entrances or sections of the park, which may be required to preserve a safe working environment.”
The city council confirmed the works ended on Saturday (May 1) but was tight-lipped on its findings.
A spokesman for the city authority told BirminghamLive: “The work recently undertaken at Sutton Park took approximately a week and concluded on Saturday (May 1).
“Studies of the park indicate that there could potentially be underlying archaeology present. This is typically shown through grass patterning during times of dry weather, commonly referred to as cropmarks.
“Although these marks weren’t spectacular and this area of the park has a 300-year history of being farmland before it was re-enveloped within the park boundary, it was worth investigation to ensure that nothing significant could have been said to have been overlooked during the feasibility study of potentially developing this portion of the park.”
The spokesman added: “Information gathered will inform the planning application/assessment and whether or not further works or conditions are required with regard the matter of archaeology should the application be approved.
“The land is in the process of being restored to its state before the survey, so regardless of outcome, nothing is lost – and we have gained more knowledge about a site with a rich and significant history.
“The idea of doing this research was also supported by archaeological experts independent of the council.
“We awaiting the final findings which we expect to have soon.”
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The proposed £770,000 car park development is currently going through the planning department, and would see the 125-space car park increased to 221 spaces, with an overspill car park further in to the park restored to Site of Special Scientific Interest habitat.
The proposed changes were agreed by Sutton Vesey Labour town councillors, Manish Puri and Rob Pocock. But objected to by some of their Conservative counterparts.
Cllr David Allan (Trinity) said the plans were ‘horrendously damaging’. And Royal Sutton Coldfield Town Council’s planning chair, Cllr Clare Horrocks (Four Oaks, Cons.) said: “The committee didn’t believe these plans were appropriate.
“The materials would be incongruous, very artificial and would stand out. They would just not be appropriate in that landscape.”
A decision by the planning committee on the car park plan is expected in the coming weeks.