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HS2 Birmingham area infrastructure plans set out

Massive upgrades will be required to the road network, the West Coast Main Line, Birmingham Airport and utilities to capitalise on the proposed new High Speed 2 (HS2) Birmingham Interchange station.

The claim was made by the Urban Growth Company (UGC) – the special purpose delivery vehicle set up to develop plans around the new station which is close to Birmingham Airport. It is set out in the UGC’s 20-year growth plan to capitalise on development opportunities, which has just been published.

The delivery body said that its Growth & Infrastructure Plan sets out the growth ambitions to maximise the full potential of this “once-in-a-generation” opportunity.

The new development area around the station has the potential to create 775,000m2 of new commercial and mixed-use floor space and up to 4,000 new homes. It could also deliver a major economic boost worth up to £4.1bn in gross value added each year, said the UGC.

An expected £1.5bn of infrastructure investment over the next 10 years has already been secured from the government, the West Midlands Combined Authority, HS2 Ltd and Highways England, it said.

The scale of the opportunity is immense

Nick Brown, UK Central Urban Growth Company

The area around the new station, known as the Hub, has been divided up into five different sections. The different areas centre around existing and proposed developments, with Birmingham Airport and the 150ha Arden Cross site forming two of the key areas.  Birmingham International station, which is on the West Coast Main Line, is next to the airport.

The NEC, Birmingham business park and Jaguar Land Rover are located in the other three areas.

HS2 will run through the Arden Cross site with the station at its centre. Once the line is complete complete, journeys to London will take 38 minutes.

Constraints that need to be overcome

As part of the plan, the UGC has identified several constraints to be overcome so the site’s potential can be realised.

It said primary infrastructure such as road and rail were already at capacity and any new development would require new connections between sites and integration of transport modes to meet expected demand.

Upgrades to power, digital networks, utilities will be required, and infrastructure will have to be diverted. The report adds that the area will also need its own utility infrastructure comprising power lines, gas pipelines, water mains and sewers. These will have to suit development patterns and be flexible enough to accommodate a range of aspirations.

The report states that the work would have long lead-in times and must be planned to consider both the HS2 works and the Hub aspirations.

Despite the constraints, the UGC said that the benefits outweighed the problems, adding it needed to capitalise on the educational, housing and commercial links to London that HS2 would provide.

Growth to the area is to be phased. Network Rail expects passenger numbers at the existing Birmingham International Station to increase by approximately 50% by 2023, with more increases when HS2 opens in 2026.

Future-proofing work

UGC said the first phase of the development work between 2018 and 2022 was a good opportunity to fully integrate all existing and proposed transport modes including the airport and HS2 at an enhanced station. It said it wanted to provide an efficient interchange between Network Rail, Birmingham Airport, HS2, Midland Metro, Sprint and local buses at a single location within the Hub.

The airport will also have to be upgraded it said, with improvements to the existing facilities, airside, landside and terminals required.

The UGC also said that the airport authorities would work with HS2 to ensure that the construction of the HS2 Interchange Station was future proofed to ensure that a combined HS2/airport terminal could be built with minimal operational and construction difficulties in a later phase.

Upgrades to the M42 around junction 6 would also be required to ease congestion during this period, it said.

Two options for infrastructure growth will be investigated for the period 2023 to 2027 to further upgrade rail, road, airport and utilities provision. Phases three and four take the project to 2032 and beyond.

The UGC said that it is continuing work with key stakeholders to progress the ambitions in the plan to develop a more detailed Hub framework.

UK Central Urban Growth Company chair Nick Brown said: “The scale of the opportunity is immense. The Hub will be built on strong foundations as the area already hosts outstanding businesses including a world class automotive research and manufacturer in Jaguar Land Rover; the globally connected Birmingham Airport, an International showcase venue for business, entertainment and world resort at the National Exhibition Centre; all nestled in an area surrounded by high quality homes and thriving businesses.

“The UGC is determined to ensure that our shared ambitions for the area are fully realised by coordinating investment plans and growth opportunities.”

The plans come as the government has revealed £7bn of investment opportunities for the Midlands Engine at real estate conference MIPIM in Cannes, France.

Commercial Secretary to the Treasury, Baroness Neville-Rolfe, said: “On the back of the Midlands Engine Strategy published last week which set out our multi-million pound investment to boost jobs and skills, this £7bn investment portfolio opens up huge opportunities for vital inward investment.”

The projects included in the government’s portfolio are:

1. Birmingham Curzon – over £500M

2. Birmingham Smithfield – over £500M

3. Drakelow Park, Derbyshire – £360M

4. Friargate, Coventry – £700M

5. Grantham Southern Quadrant, Lincolnshire – over £200M

6. Heart of the City, Derby – £165M

7. Loughborough University Science and Enterprise Park, Leicestershire – £625M

8. Nottingham City Centre – over £1bn

9. Peppermint Park, Holbeach, Lincolnshire – over £150M

10.Redditch Eastern Gateway, Worcestershire – over £100M

11.South Kestevon Regional Offer, Lincolnshire – over £100M

12. Springfield Campus, Wolverhampton – over £125M

13. Stoke-on-Trent City Centre – over £310M

14. Boots Enterprise Zone, Nottingham – over £100M

15. National Space Park – over £75M

16. Tudor Cross, Bolsover, Derbyshire – £175M

17. UK Central Hub and HS2 Interchange, Solihull – over £2bn

18. Wolverhampton Canalside and City Interchange – over £155M

19. Worcester Growth corridor – up to £300M

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