£10m Centenary Square refit key to HSBC move to Birmingham, claims council leader
HSBC’s decision to move its UK personal and business banking operation to Birmingham was “greatly helped” by a promised £10 million transformation of Centenary Square, city council leader John Clancy has said.
Hinting that the bank might not have come without the refurbishment, Cllr Clancy added that HSBC “values only the highest quality environments for their employees and visitors” and said the new-look square would boost investor and occupier confidence in Birmingham city centre.
He was commenting following criticism from the city planning committee about the cost and design of renewing Centenary Square, which was described as “a few trees and over-sized street lamps”.
The scheme was eventually given planning permission, but only after several councillors criticised the inclusion of water features and questioned whether £10 million could be better spent elsewhere.
HSBC will occupy 2 Arena Central, off Broad Street and opposite Centenary Square, bringing 1,000 jobs to Birmingham from next year.
Arena Central’s promotional publicity says the bank’s new offices will have “outstanding views across the site’s new public realm and extensive landscaping and Centenary Square”.
Cllr Clancy said the value of improving the quality of the public realm in order to improve perceptions of visitors to Birmingham and to provide an attractive setting for business investment, retail, leisure and cultural events was universally recognised.
The redesign of Centenary Square had been planned since 2011. Now over 25 years old the materials of the square were “beginning to fail” and replacements were no longer available, he added.
It is proposed to extend the square across Broad Street to integrate an extension of the Midland Metro tram line from New Street Station. The £10 million cost of refurbishing Centenary Square is being funded by the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership through the Enterprise Zone Investment Plan.
The overall Enterprise Zone programme is set to create an additional 40,000 new jobs, 1.3 million square metres of new floor space, and will boost the Birmingham economy by £2.8 billion a year.
Cllr Clancy responded to a question from Liberal Democrat councillor Paul Tilsley asking him to set out the economic benefits flowing from redesign of Centenary Square:
The Centenary Square project provides a key focal point to complement almost £1 billion of private sector investment in the Paradise and Arena Central developments.
The decision of HSBC to locate its headquarters and over 1,000 jobs in Birmingham at Arena Central was greatly helped by them seeing their building integrated within the enlarged and transformed Centenary Square as the company values only the highest-quality environments for their employees and many business visitors.
In creating investor and occupier confidence, this project will help to attract further inward investment opportunities and jobs to the city.
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