Birmingham City Centre Enterprise Zone take huge step forward
Plans to extend the Midland Metro and regenerate Centenary Square have taken a major step forward after being approved by the city council’s cabinet.
This is the first major infrastructure project brought forward through the Birmingham City Centre Enterprise Zone Investment Plan, supporting growth and investment in the city centre.
The Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) approved in 2011 the creation of a zone made up of 26 key investment sites across the centre of Birmingham which have the potential to create 40,000 new jobs and boost the local economy by £2 billion.
This investment will be repaid by the uplift in business rates that the GBSLEP is able to retain from businesses that move into the Zone.
As well as the Metro extension, the next stage of the investment phase of the investment plan will see a renewal of Centenary Square and improvements to road layouts.
Councillor Tahir Ali, cabinet member for development, jobs and skills, said: “This will deliver improved public transport to two key sites within the Enterprise Zone – Paradise Circus and Arena Central – which will help connect people to employment opportunities, provide an alternative to driving and connect the business community to mainline train stations linking to London and the north.
“Centenary Square is one of the largest public spaces in the city, with the Library of Birmingham, ICC, Rep theatre and Symphony Hall making it a great place for people to come together.”
The £42 million project includes funding from the Enterprise Zone and is supported by the Local Transport Board and the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership.
Chris Webster, GBSLEP board director with responsibility for the Enterprise Zone, said: “Right across the Zone we can see progress on the ground.
“Paradise Circus is rapidly moving forward to a start on site following the approval of Enterprise Zone Resources and just a stone’s throw away from Paradise Circus work is already underway on the Arena Central site, preparing the way for a 250-bedroom Holiday Inn Express hotel.
“Two Snow Hill, a new city centre campus for Birmingham City University and the redevelopment of the former Post & Mail are either complete or now underway.
“Already we are on course to create 2,500 new jobs by 2015 with many more forecast this we therefore support fully this proposal, which will link to major Enterprise Zone sites and the wider Westside area to the transformed New Street Station and to Snow Hill Station providing an important boost to investment.”
The extension of Metro will provide two new stops at the Town Hall and Centenary Square enabling connectivity further into the city centre core with an expected increase of passengers to 760,000 by 2026.
This will be a boost to Birmingham’s ambitions for a well-connected city and provide a further catalyst for more journeys to be made on public transport with the wider associated benefits of a reduction in congestion and CO2 emissions.
It provides a much enhanced environment together with the proposals to renew Centenary Square and makes this part of the city a key destination for Birmingham residents, businesses and visitors alike.