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Greater Birmingham focuses on connectivity to entice investment

Connectivity remains a key focus for Greater Birmingham at MIPIM 2017, with HS2 in particular continuing to attract interest from potential investors around the world. Greater Birmingham is already welcoming a number of companies – including US engineering firm Jacobs, global bank HSBC and property consultancy Carter Jonas – that want to capitalise on the arrival of HS2, and the other transport infrastructure it will stimulate. The largest project of its kind in Europe, HS2 is expected to generate €16 billion (£14 billion) GVA in the Midlands.
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Alongside HS2, Greater Birmingham is also benefiting from the €692 million (£600 million) redevelopment of New Street station in Birmingham and the extension of the Midlands Metro across Birmingham city centre. Birmingham Airport’s €46 million (£40 million) runway extension means that airlines can now operate direct long-haul routes to destinations including China and the West Coast of the USA. In the Black Country, a €138 million (£120 million) integrated regional transport hub called the Wolverhampton Interchange is expected to provide a modern gateway to its city centre.

Birmingham Airport is the focus of an event looking at its recent growth and plans for the future. Its chief executive, Paul Kehoe, commented: “We cannot underestimate the importance of connectivity to the economic performance of Greater Birmingham. Expanding air, rail and road links to and from the region will help to boost trade links, secure more inward investment, welcome new visitors and attract those who want to live in the region long-term.

“With the onset of Brexit, it is crucial for the future of our local and national economy to highlight how Greater Birmingham is still open to business from across the world. We are focusing on connectivity at MIPIM to emphasise its importance in front of a global audience of potential investors.”

UK Central Solihull’s HS2 Interchange station will be located at The Hub – a concentration of economic assets and development opportunities including Birmingham Airport, the National Exhibition Centre, Jaguar Land Rover and Arden Cross. The Hub’s Growth and Infrastructure Plan, to be launched at MIPIM, will outline plans for €1.7 billion (£1.5 billion) of infrastructure investment including an Automated People Mover connecting the HS2 Interchange to Birmingham Airport and the NEC.

The effect HS2 will have on Birmingham city centre will be discussed by Liz Peace, Chair of the Curzon Urban Regeneration Company. Redevelopment of the area surrounding Birmingham’s Curzon HS2 station could generate some 4,000 new homes and 600,000 sqm of commercial, leisure and retail floorspace. Peace said: “With Royal Asset now granted for Phase One of HS2, we are in a much stronger position to deliver the full potential of Birmingham Curzon. Almost €1.15 billion (£1 billion) has been committed to regenerating the area, through the Curzon Investment Plan launched in September 2016.

“HS2 has also become a catalyst for growing the region’s emerging sectors, triggering new innovation and enterprise. Adjacent to the HS2 Curzon Street station, we’ll see the €231 million (£200m) redevelopment of a historic Birmingham building to create Typhoo Wharf - a dynamic, new tech hub for the city. We are now completely focused on delivering this vision and ensuring that the ambitions for Birmingham Curzon become a reality.”

HS2 also brings major supply chain, development and regeneration opportunities for the Black Country including the proposed €461 million (£400 million) Brierley Hill Metro project, which will link the area to the HS2 network.

Black Country LEP board member Tom Westley added: “Major transport schemes such as HS2 have a wide-ranging impact that goes beyond the areas they are built in. This kind of infrastructure boosts regional and national economic growth; attracts considerable inward investment; and makes the case for further connectivity between other economic hubs. It is important that the Black Country capitalises on the growth of Greater Birmingham’s connectivity at events like MIPIM, which will help to attract investment for transport schemes within the local area.”