New masterplan positions UK Central as key driver of 100,000 new jobs
An ambitious masterplan which outlines how the area around the NEC and Birmingham Airport could be developed to create 100,000 jobs and boost GDP by as much as £19.5 billion launched today.
The masterplan for UK Central (UKC) explains the vision of Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council and the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) for development up until 2040.
It builds on existing strengths of one of the leading investment destinations in the UK, such as the NEC and Blythe Valley and Birmingham Business Parks which already support an estimated 100,000 jobs and contribute £5.1 billion to the economy.
However, major investments in Birmingham Airport and the arrival of HS2, the £125 million Resorts World complex and at Jaguar Land Rover, demonstrate there is even greater potential.
The Arup-led consortium appointed to produce the UKC masterplan predicts that an additional 100,000 jobs could be created – increasing the region’s revenue to up to £19.5 billion annually by 2040.
The masterplan, commissioned by Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council and the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership, is the first and most extensive plan of its kind for the area.
The 200-page document outlines how bold measures need to be taken to capitalise on the potential. These include:
- Early and bold investment in local connectivity, including new modes of rapid transit to create a genuinely connected network
- Investing in green infrastructure as a vital economic asset
- Targeting investment in Junction Six of the M42 to facilitate the growth of Birmingham Airport, the NEC and Birmingham Business Park.
- Delivering managed growth around four key locations, namely North Solihull, Solihull Town Centre, Blythe Valley Business Park and the Hub – the epicentre of UKC which includes the NEC, airport, Birmingham Business Park and the proposed High Speed Rail station.
- The creation of a special purpose delivery vehicle called UKC Limited, staffed to procure and deliver schemes identified in a strategic business plan and accelerating planning, funding and implementation.
- Piloting a Single Local Growth Fund, and attracting additional private sector investment
Councillor Ken Meeson, Leader of Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council, said: “UK Central represents one of the most important economic opportunities for the city region, wider West Midlands and the UK as a whole.
“It’s position at the heart of the UK transport networks and existing strengths as a growing centre for advanced engineering, high value manufacturing and tourism, combined with major assets such as Birmingham Airport, National Exhibition Centre and the home of Jaguar Land Rover already make it one of the UK’s premier business locations.
“Solihull has a track record of economic growth and, working with the GBSLEP, we are confident we can take the already attractive offer for investors and turn our long-term vision into new jobs and growth.”
Andy Street, Chair of the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Partners across the LEP applaud the vision shown by Solihull MBC in driving forward UKC to build on its record of success.
“This opportunity is undoubtedly one of the LEP’s ‘big ideas’ as it has a unique combination of advantages for business growth.
“Investments in Birmingham Airport and the arrival of the HS2 network makes it vital that we put the arrangements in place now to capitalise on the improved offer that UK Central will present to investors.
“By taking a structured approach to the development of UK Central and maximising the GBSLEP’s links with Government, we can ensure development is both appropriate and beneficial to the whole Greater Birmingham city region.”
The masterplan covers a broad spectrum of business and economic growth opportunities – including comparisons of where the growth of the region is projected to be both with and without the proposed activity.
Jerome Frost, Project Director, Arup, said: “The UK Central masterplan builds on Solihull’s tremendous strengths, offering a fabulous quality of life, connections to around 70% of the UK’s population in under 90 minutes and a supportive investment environment that already stands out in its performance over the last two decades.
“By capitalising on one of the strongest economic bases in the UK today, the UK Central masterplan sets out a ‘road map’ for growth that can underpin a national economic resurgence.”
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