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HS2 on track to deliver ‘once in a generation’ economic boost

HS2 on track to deliver ‘once in a generation’ economic boost

🕔23.Jul 2015

The arrival of HS2 in Birmingham will create and safeguard 104,000 jobs and deliver an unprecedented boost to the West Midlands economy, it is claimed today.

A high speed rail growth strategy launched by the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) estimates the new railway with stations in Birmingham city centre and at the NEC/Airport will deliver a £14 billion boost to the local economy.

The strategy, which describes HS2 as a “once in a generation opportunity to do something really special”, sets out plans to maximise the benefits of HS2 for the Midlands.

It focuses on improving access to training, developing skills and making sure supply chains are prepared to take advantage of business generated by the railway.

It’s claimed improved connectivity flowing from HS2 will put the West Midlands at the heart of the UK’s economic future.

The leaders of Birmingham and Solihull councils and GBSLEP directors are convinced that huge tracts of land around the two stations will become a magnet for redevelopment as journey times to London and eventually the north of England are slashed.

GBSLEP’s regional HS2 growth strategy ties in with Birmingham city council’s own estimates of the benefits that will flow from the railway project, with regeneration prospects boosted even further by the business rate uplift advantages of the city centre Enterprise Zone.

The Birmingham Curzon HS2 Masterplan, which will be approved by the council cabinet on July 27, sets out proposals to deliver a world class integrated city centre station – Birmingham Curzon – along with major regeneration across Eastside, Digbeth and the city centre.

It’s claimed regeneration off the back of HS2 will boost the Birmingham economy by £1.4 billion a year and see 36,000 jobs, 600,000 sq. metres of employment space and 4,000 homes delivered.

GBSLEP says HS2 will be a catalyst for job creation, increased productivity and will make a major contribution to the growth of the UK economy.

As well as regeneration and connectivity improvements for the areas surrounding the two HS2 stations – at Birmingham Curzon and UK Central Interchange in Solihull – the strategy identifies practical plans to unlock additional projects as a result of HS2.

According to the strategy, 10 per cent of 104,000 new and safeguarded jobs will be created for local, unemployed residents.

GBSLEP says it wants to make sure the region’s people, businesses and places are ready to maximise the opportunities afforded by the arrival of the biggest infrastructure project in Britain for decades.

Work on phase one of HS2 – the Birmingham to London route – is due to start in 2017 and is due to be completed by 2027.

One of two campuses for the National College for High Speed Rail will open in Birmingham in 2017.

Half of the students will be studying for a higher apprenticeship. The college will prepare school leavers for jobs in high speed rail and the wider rail industry, providing future generations with the skills needed to build HS2 and other future infrastructure projects, according to GBSLEP.

Andy Street, chair of the GBSLEP, said:

The arrival of HS2 in the Midlands is a once-in-a generation opportunity to do something really special.

It’s not enough to simply lay tracks and build stations; we must take this chance to create a legacy for the region in terms of regeneration, jobs, skills, economic development and connectivity.

This is already a hugely powerful regional economy but we can use the benefits of HS2 to play an even greater role in powering Britain.

Sir Albert Bore, leader, Birmingham City Council, added:

HS2 gives us a superb opportunity to secure first-class connectivity across the whole of the Midlands and that will create an economic powerhouse without equal in the UK regions.

But to make these ambitious plans a reality, we must secure regional and national commitments so honest engagement and partnership working will be critical.

Sir David Higgins, HS2 Ltd chairman, said:

The lasting impact and legacy of HS2 will be determined by how successfully local authorities and regions use it as a catalyst to transform their economies and develop the look and feel of the areas it touches.

The Midlands HS2 Growth Strategy is therefore hugely important for Birmingham and the Midlands, as it sets out a clear approach to maximising the opportunity to drive economic growth and provide real benefits to local people through access to jobs and skills.

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said:

It is absolutely fantastic to see people in the Midlands gearing up to take full advantage of HS2 and the jobs, skills and growth it will bring.

Birmingham and Solihull will be at the heart of HS2 network. This strategy illustrates how HS2 can re-balance our country’s economy and why it is such a vital part of our long-term economic plan.

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