Property boss appointed to lead regeneration around HS2 station

Company is responsible for the transformation of over 140 hectares surrounding the city’s HS2 terminus at Curzon Street.

Liz Peace CBE, the former Chief Executive of the British Property Federation, has become the Chair of the Birmingham Curzon Urban Regeneration Company.

Launched in July 2014, the company will lead the redevelopment of the 141 hectare Curzon Street area surrounding Birmingham’s planned HS2 station. It is one of the biggest urban regeneration schemes in Britain.

Having grown up in Birmingham, Peace is now based in London. She retired in 2014 after spending nearly 13 years at the BPF, the lobbying organisation for the UK’s commercial property industry. Prior to this, she was Director of Corporate Affairs at defence specialist QinetiQ, and also worked at the Ministry of Defence. Peace holds non-executive roles at companies including EC Harris, Morgan Sindall and Turley, and is chair of the property industry’s charity, LandAid.

The appointment of Peace is a further step forward for Birmingham’s plan to capitalise fully on the benefits HS2 will bring. The city has already been announced as the home to HS2’s construction headquarters – creating 1,500 jobs – and the HS2 College, which will train some 2,000 engineering apprentices.

Commenting on her appointment, Peace said: “On revisiting Birmingham, I have been able to see the huge amount of activity happening in the city to capture every opportunity that HS2 will provide. The scheme will be integral to Birmingham’s growing appeal to businesses, developers and investors across the globe. The company will initially focus on attracting new investment into the Curzon area to stimulate its regeneration. To play a lead role in helping to realise Birmingham’s full economic potential is an exciting opportunity that I could not miss.”

The establishment of the Birmingham Curzon Urban Regeneration Company follows the launch of the Birmingham Curzon HS2 Masterplan in February last year. The Masterplan outlined how stimulating the area’s economic growth could deliver 14,000 jobs, some 600,000 sqm of new employment floorspace, more than 2,000 homes and up to £1.3 billion a year to the local economy.

Sir Albert Bore, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “Birmingham is united behind a practical plan to reap the rewards of HS2 – which also is easing London’s intense growth challenges, notably around housing supply and office space. Liz and the rest of the board will lead on the regeneration of the Curzon area, ensuring that a site of this scale is locally managed with the support and involvement of senior figures in the transport and property industries, and the backing of national government.”

HS2 is expected to create some 26,000 jobs across the Greater Birmingham & Solihull area, and boost the West Midlands’ economy by £4 billion per year. The Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership has allocated £30 million to the company to accelerate regeneration activity in the Curzon Street area – and a further £130 million from the area’s Growth Deal to support the extension of the Midland Metro tram network to Curzon Street. Curzon will be a main element within the LEP’s HS2 Growth Strategy, which is being submitted to the government on 30 April.

Andy Street, Chair of the GBSLEP, commented: “HS2 is already helping us to unlock the potential of Greater Birmingham. The Curzon Street area and UK Central in Solihull are at the heart of the national HS2 network – which is vital to the work we’re doing to promote Greater Birmingham’s resurgence, and places the area at the heart of Britain’s new economy.”

Peace heads a shadow board for the Birmingham Curzon Urban Regeneration Company, which met for the first time earlier this month. The board consists of members of local and national government, and the transport industry. They comprise Sir Albert Bore, Leader of Birmingham City Council; Andy Street, Chair of the GBSLEP; Duncan Sutherland, Non-executive Board Member and Regeneration Lead at HS2 Ltd; David Prout, Director General of HS2 at the Department for Transport; and Geoff Inskip, Chief Executive of Centro. The company is expected to be incorporated by the end of the year.