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Birmingham launches £600 million masterplan to become global professional services hub

Birmingham launches £600 million masterplan to become global professional services hub

🕔04.Feb 2015

Birmingham has unveiled a £600 million masterplan to transform its business district and win further investment from global business, professional and financial services (BPS) firms, reports Kevin Johnson

The plan is part of the Council’s aim to replicate the success of Canary Wharf, laying down the gauntlet to the likes of London, Frankfurt and Zurich as it seeks to attract firms to join growing investors such as DTZ, Deutsche Bank, RBS and Hogan Lovells.

The 20-year Snow Hill Masterplan, which covers the Snow Hill and Colmore areas of the city, was launched by Birmingham City Council and Colmore Business District (CBD). It provides a framework to create 10,000 new jobs, generate over 200,000 square metres of new office space and boost the local economy by over £600 million each year.

The plan also outlines the improvement of transport links such as the redevelopment of Snow Hill station – the main connection between the business district and London – which will include new commercial buildings replacing its multi-storey car park. The plan aims to encourage London-based firms to expand in Birmingham, as Deutsche Bank did last year.

Sir Albert Bore, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said:

Birmingham is putting in place the building blocks for a global business and financial centre. The city is already investing heavily to ensure that firms have everything they need to thrive here.

The Snow Hill Masterplan provides a bold and exciting proposal for how Birmingham can continue to grow its thriving business and professional services sector. With time, we want the city to replicate the success of Canary Wharf, with areas like the Snow Hill district forming the cornerstone of this vision.

With the successful £600 million transformation of Birmingham New Street – one of the UK’s busiest train stations – due to complete later this year, we are already looking at how other parts of the city can capitalise on upgraded transport schemes. Plans such as the revitalisation of Snow Hill station will strengthen Birmingham’s position as a destination for national and international BPFS firms that want to expand, attract skilled staff and join other successful companies in their sector.

Gary Cardin, Chair of CBD, added:

Birmingham’s cost-effective office space, world-class transport links, and abundant supply of local talent has created the ideal environment for investment. The city has also become a fantastic place for professionals to live. It is uniquely international, with a vibrant cultural, culinary and social scene that is helping make Birmingham unrecognisable from a decade ago.

The Snow Hill Masterplan paints a picture of new landmark developments that will expand CBD and provide a sustainable supply of high-quality office and mixed-use space, supporting strong business and residential growth for decades to come.

Alex Bishop, chair of BPS Birmingham which represents, promotes and connects the sector across Greater Birmingham commented:

The sector is the largest in the UK outside London and critical to the city’s economic future. Across the wider region this generates £15 billion annually, with more than 21,000 companies employing some 220,000 people. The sector is forecast to grow by 34% in the next five years.

Operational costs in Birmingham can be up to 55% cheaper than London – with its office market offering the best value for money in Britain – while the arrival of HS2 will bring the city to the equivalent of London Underground’s Zone 4.

The city has also become a more desirable place to live in the past decade – another factor behind its burgeoning appeal as a business destination says Business Birmingham, the official inward investment programme. Some 5,500 Londoners in their thirties left the capital last year to move to Birmingham – the most of any regional city. The Snow Hill Masterplan adds 4,000 residential units to the area, catering for young professionals looking to move into the city for the career opportunities it offers.

The plan outlines how Snow Hill station’s car park will be replaced with new office buildings, while a new concourse area will be created and new walking routes provided through the station. It also includes the transformation of the A38, to create a new urban boulevard connecting the neighbouring Jewellery and Gun Quarters, and the creation of a new urban neighbourhood in the Steelhouse Lane area. It is designed to support existing investments including the £30 million restoration of the historic Grand Hotel, the arrival of HS2’s new construction headquarters at Two Snowhill – which will employ 1,500 people – and the extension of the £127 million Midland Metro network.

Cllr Tahir Ali, Cabinet Member for Development, Transport and the Economy at Birmingham City Council, said:

The Masterplan proposals will be supported by significant investments from the public and private sector to deliver a range of benefits, including improved public routes and spaces. Its proximity to the HS2 Curzon station, linked via the new Metro connection, will ensure that the Snow Hill district will be at the heart of Birmingham’s offer as an international business investment destination.

 The plan also builds on the £9.9 million already being invested in enhancing the area’s public realm by the Greater Birmingham & Solihull LEP, CBD, Birmingham City Council and Centro.  It sets out a clear strategy that will draw upon funding from the city’s Growth Deal and Birmingham’s Enterprise Zone – with the Council working with partners including CBD, Centro and Network Rail.

A six week period of public consultation on the Snow Hill Masterplan will run from 9th February 2015 until 23rd March 2015. The strategy can be downloaded and details of how to make comments can be found here.

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