GBSLEP WELCOMES COMMITMENT TO EXTEND THE CITY CENTRE ENTERPRISE ZONE
The Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has made a commitment that a future Conservative Government would extend both the geography of the Birmingham city centre Enterprise Zone to cover the whole of the development zone around the HS2 city centre terminus station at Curzon along with the duration of the zone.
The extension would be a huge boost for the region and a key enabler of the plan to further drive local growth and prosperity. It is hoped that the initiative will also receive support from the other political parties given the outcomes it will generate.
Since the launch of the national Enterprise Zone (EZ) initiative in 2011, the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP), in partnership with Birmingham City Council, has been pioneering approaches to unlocking development, stimulating investment and delivering jobs. This is being achieved through the re-use of retained business rates that the EZ designation allows.
The EZ currently consists of 26 sites covering an area of 68 hectares across Birmingham’s city centre.
Through the current EZ, a £275m Investment Plan has been committed to drive growth not only within the city centre, but also across the wider GBSLEP area.
This proactive approach to enabling development has seen 938 jobs, 60,700 sq metres of floorspace and £203m of private sector investment attracted to the EZ since 2011. A further 2,000 jobs and 70,000 sq metres of floorspace will come forward in 2015/16. Major long term development schemes are also being boosted as a direct result of the EZ with work on the £500m Paradise development, which will see 10,000 jobs and 170,000 sq metres of floorspace, commencing in 2015. Public transport improvements are also being targeted as part of the EZ Investment Plan, with the £37.95m extension of the Midland Metro tram system to Centenary Square and the £30m city centre public realm improvement programme.
With the EZ extension in place exciting new regeneration and development schemes will be triggered. The location of the EZ extension, to include the Birmingham Curzon development zone, will provide a catalyst to unlocking development, attracting significant inward investment and generating additional jobs.
By extending the EZ to cover the Birmingham Curzon area, further commitments will be made to delivering major investments in local infrastructure which could see more than 50,000 jobs and £1.7bn of private investment attracted to the region.
The initiative is receiving cross-party support as shown by Labour candidate for Hodge Hill, Liam Byrne, who has said he would call for the move to be replicated should Labour win the general election. As quoted in the Birmingham Post (30 April 2015), he said: “This is certainly something that Birmingham Labour MPs would be pushing for.
“Across Birmingham and the Midlands we would expect to see a cross-party consensus on this.”
Andy Street, chair of the GBSLEP, said: “We welcome the commitment that a future Conservative Government would extend both the geography of our city centre Enterprise Zone and the duration of the zone. This would support us to fund a package of targeted local measures to truly maximise the growth potential around the station, drive regional productivity and in turn the net gain to UK PLC. We hope that regardless of the outcome of the general election, the new Government will support this proposal, helping us realise the benefits of this once in a generation opportunity.”
Liz Peace CBE, chair of the Birmingham Curzon Regeneration Company Shadow Board, said: “The extension of the Enterprise Zone in terms of both time and geographical coverage will be hugely valuable for us in enabling investment in infrastructure and unlocking growth in the Curzon area. We will be able to make long term plans that will support further local investment across a much wider area – and that will be really important as we seek to maximise the local economic benefits from High Speed 2.”
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