A Metro extension, major retail renaissance and parks in the sky are set to form part of an ambitious vision to transform vast swathes of Birmingham city centre.
The proposals, the biggest redevelopment announced in the wake of the high speed rail link, represent a 25-year vision to realise the potential of neglected areas of Digbeth and Eastside.
Birmingham City Council leader Sir Albert Bore said the regeneration will boost the city’s economy by £1.3 billion each year with more than 14,000 jobs, 148 acres of new employment floorspace and 2,000 new homes.
The developments will be focused around the new city centre station – Birmingham Curzon – but Sir Albert told the Post he wants to see major progress well in advance of the station being completed in 2026.
He said: “We are not hanging around for the station to start operating in 2026, we are looking to activate the economic growth which HS2 can give rise to.
A computer-generated image showing an aerial view of Birmingham Curzon Street HS2 Station, from the Birmingham Curzon HS2 Masterplan
“This is about connectivity in the local area of Eastside and Digbeth, but there is a wider set of connectivity issues for Greater Birmingham.”
While HS2 will fund the station, the city council, along with Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), is aiming to push through greater benefits and connectivity.
The proposals form part of a Strategic Economic Plan bid, being driven by the LEP, to bring in public funding.
Talks are also taking place to expand the city centre enterprise zone, taking in areas identified around the station as prime locations for growth.
However, the proposals are principally aimed at encouraging private investment in the retail and leisure sector, as well as creative industries in Digbeth.
The vision spells out sweeping changes to the transport network, including walkways linking across the city.
The station would be served by Metro trams on a new route branching off the extension, currently being built through the city centre.
There are also major retail moves suggested, with the station opening out to an area to be known as Station Square, expected to be a major transition route for pedestrians heading west to New Street.
The proposals were drawn up in-house by the city council – and were turned around quickly to meet funding deadlines and be ready to present at the MIPIM property conference in Cannes next week.
Waheed Nazir, director for planning and regeneration at Birmingham City Council, said: “The masterplan sets out the city council’s aspirations for the new HS2 terminus station and the huge regeneration potential that surrounds it. The potential of HS2 can only be realised if we build a world class station that seamlessly connects people to the rest of the city centre.
“The masterplan is part of Birmingham’s ambitious growth agenda that will see the city’s economy grow and prosper. HS2 will be an important catalyst for this ongoing development and regeneration activity.”
Mr Nazir said the station will place the city at the heart of the new national high speed network, with a 49-minute journey from London.
It is forecast that there will be 1,760 passengers boarding, alighting and changing at
Curzon Street station in the morning peak hour and approximately 1,870 in the evening peak hour when it is built in 2026.
For 2041, with the full phase two operation, it is forecast that these numbers increase to 4,670 in the morning and 4,970 passengers in the evening peaks through increased train frequency and additional national rail destinations.
The plans are at the centre of the city’s efforts to support its burgeoning creative, learning and research sectors and the booming professional and financial services industry.
The masterplan aims to build on the £600 million transformation of New Street Station, which will be completed next year along with a £128 million Midland Metro extension linking the station with the existing tram line at Snow Hill.
Lord Deighton, commercial secretary to the treasury and chair of the HS2 Growth Taskforce said: “Birmingham is going the right way about realising the benefits of HS2 by developing ambitious plans to kick-start development.
“Their vision for the Curzon HS2 Masterplan demonstrates the transformational value of HS2, not just for rail passengers but for the communities that the railway will serve.
“The legacy of our new north-south railway will be not only a railway fit for the future, with better connections to cities in the north, but also regeneration and economic growth for Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, London and everywhere in between.”
According to the firm creating the high speed rail link, HS2 Ltd, high-speed rail will boost the West Midlands economy by £4.1 billion each year and create more than 51,000 new jobs by providing extra capacity and better connections to London and the north.
The new Birmingham Curzon station will be the first new station to be built in the city for over 100 years and will be the biggest building in the city.
An eight-week consultation on the Curzon HS2 Masterplan has now begun, with construction set to start on the HS2 line and stations in 2017.
Andy Street, chair of the LEP, said: the proposed station represented a “once in a lifetime opportunity” to redevelop a significant part of the city centre.
“The scale of this opportunity and the size of the prize means that partners have been looking very carefully at how we fund and maximise the potential,” he added.
“We are now in advanced stages of developing the GBSLEP Strategic Economic Plan which identifies Curzon Street as one of the economic game changers.
“A number of innovative and ambitious proposals will be included in order to enable us to unlock the development, deliver a world-class station for Birmingham and breathe new life into that part of the city in addition to a wider package of connectivity interventions.
“While we are still developing these proposals that will be submitted to government at the end of March, we are seeking freedoms and powers to make the most of this opportunity.”