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£14bn plan to maximise HS2 benefits in Birmingham unveiled

Words: Laura Edgar

A plan outlining how Birmingham and Solihull can take advantage of the opportunities brought to the West Midlands by High Speed 2 (HS2) has been published by the region’s local enterprise partnership.

Developed by Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), The Midlands HS2 Growth Strategy (pdf) outlines how developing skills and access to training, as well as improving the connectivity of the region, “will put the Midlands at the heart of the UK’s economic future.”

Andy Street, chair of Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP, said the arrival of HS2 in the region is a “once-in-a generation opportunity to do something really special".

Laying track is not enough, he said. “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.”

The Midlands HS2 Growth Strategy outlines the delivery mechanisms that will deliver the benefits to the Greater Birmingham and Solihull area, including local and national partnerships and funding structures.

It is hoped that the strategy will ensure that the wider region, which will have two HS2 stations (at Birmingham Curzon and UK Central Interchange in Solihull) as well as Birmingham Airport, will benefit from this improved connectivity and access to international markets, driving “new areas for regeneration, housing and business growth”.

It should help deliver:

  • £14 billion in Gross Value Added

  • 104,000 new and safeguarded jobs – 10 per cent of which will be for unemployed local residents

  • The number of people qualified to NVQ Level 4 or equivalent at the national average of 36 per cent

  • 2,000 apprenticeships

  • 700 businesses supported in taking advantage of the opportunities

  • 2,000,000 of the region’s population connected to HS2 by public transport

The LEP expects the region to benefit from having one of the campuses for the National College for High Speed Rail based in Birmingham, which is expected to open in 2017.

With such a young population in Greater Birmingham, “skills development and apprenticeship opportunities leading to high-value jobs are vital,” and “modern, fit-for-purpose transport network” are both vital, said Andrew Cleaves, board director for improving connectivity for the LEP.

“Our strategy will deliver on both of these agendas and, by working together across the public and private sectors, we can drive growth on an unprecedented scale and transform the lives of thousands of people,” he concluded.

Sir Albert Bore, Birmingham City Council leader added that to secure the benefits and the ambition to “secure first-class connectivity” across the Midlands, “we must secure regional and national commitments; honest engagement and partnership working will be critical.”

Image courtesy of Birmingham News Room