Birmingham is on high alert this week as the Conservatives gather at the ICC for the annual conference. Mrs May seems determined to avoid Brexit dominating proceedings and it seems to be a fair bet that the benefits of HS2 will be a subject of local interest (as well as the forthcoming mayoral election with former John Lewis MD, Andy Street confirmed as Conservative candidate on Sunday morning).
Subject to receiving Royal Assent shortly, and it would be a major surprise if it does not, HS2 will commence construction in the New Year. This will be the largest infrastructure project in Europe and is expected to create 100,000 new jobs in the region. Assuming that to be the case the economic benefits will be immense.
Potential new jobs will require new skills to be developed and more partnership with local further education colleges essential. Much has already been said about the regeneration opportunity around the Curzon Street Station but equally centre stage will be the hub around UK Central and the interchange station close to the NEC. A new ‘garden’ city is being talked about to meet the increased housing need.
Whilst the benefits to the city of Birmingham are obvious and mean that there is now a genuine aspiration to become a major European city the impact is potentially much wider. That is particularly the case for the Black Country where a number of major infrastructure schemes are planned to capitalise on the ability to meet supply chain opportunities in manufacturing, rolling stock, etc.
Connectivity with the East Midlands is also planned to be revolutionised with journey time from Birmingham and Nottingham down to 15 minutes. That would mean Nottingham, Derby and Leicester at the Birmingham party too.
Perhaps most excitingly for those in the property development space HS2 creates a land remediation fund with opportunities to remediate brown field sites previously considered uneconomic. The relevant authorities have combined to provide an economic plan ‘Making Our Mark’ identifying the sites in the Midlands to be prioritised for development. Please click here for more details.
With the political and economic uncertainty rife after the Brexit vote and coming into sharp focus with Mrs May’s announcement on Sunday morning hopefully the HS2 project will provide light at the end of the tunnel.