Solihull plan for new urban quarter receives double boost

Groundbreaking partnership with HS2 Ltd to design new infrastructure and connectivity.

Plans to create a new, high-quality and sustainable urban quarter around the HS2 Interchange Station in Solihull have taken a major step forward after funding was secured, and the principles of designing new infrastructure and transport connections at the site were agreed, with a final deal to be signed this month.

The Urban Growth Company – established by Solihull Council to maximise the opportunities around the new Interchange Station site – has worked jointly with Solihull Council to secure £9.8 million of Devolution Deal funding from the West Midlands Combined Authority to enable HS2 Ltd to design the changes.

The UGC and Solihull Council have also reached the basis of an agreement with HS2 Ltd about how the design process will be managed and delivered to support the vision for the new Interchange Station site over the next two years. This lays the foundations for major development at the site near the NEC and Birmingham Airport, known as Arden Cross.

The changes include the development of a plaza and public transport interchange to create a significant sense of arrival at the new HS2 station; replacing surface car parking with multi-storey car parks to free up more land for development; improved pedestrian links; and incorporating additional capacity for future utilities requirements.

The changes also support reduced journey times on the automated people mover connecting passengers between Birmingham Airport, the NEC, Birmingham International Station and the HS2 Interchange Station.

As well as ensuring the HS2 Interchange Station is better connected to local transport services, including future Metro and Sprint routes, the changes will open-up the wider Arden Cross site for major development creating jobs, new commercial space and homes.

Speaking at the international property conference MIPIM, where full details of the changes were being unveiled, Councillor Ian Courts, Deputy Leader of Solihull Council, commented: “This agreement means we really can make the most of HS2’s arrival and deliver up to 77,500 new jobs, 775,000 sq metres of commercial space, 4,000 new homes and generate £4.1 billion every year as a result. It also means that people across the region will be better connected than ever, thanks to the improvements to local transport links.”

UGC Chairman Nick Brown explained the importance of securing the funding and finalising the agreement with HS2 Ltd: “We’ve always said The Hub area has the potential to drive nationally-significant economic growth – but only if the vision for Interchange Station site was sufficiently ambitious. That’s why we’ll continue to work hard with the WMCA and HS2 Ltd – to make sure these new plans for the Interchange Station site match that ambition and are future-proof.”

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “HS2 offers the West Midlands an envious opportunity in terms of jobs, development and investment. It also offers the opportunity to really think about how we maximise the benefits for the wider borough of Solihull helping to drive economic performance and growth in what is already the UK’s economic powerhouse.

“MIPIM is a worthy showcase for plans as ambitious as these and it is fantastic to be able to showcase them to an audience of global investors.”

Mike Lyons, HS2 Programme Director for the Greater West Midlands, commented: “Interchange Station is one of two state-of-the-art stations that we’re building in the West Midlands, putting this region at the heart of the HS2 network. Not only will it boost rail capacity and improve journeys, the station will kick-start thousands of new jobs and homes in the surrounding area. It’s great to be working with local partners to grasp this huge opportunity – contributing to an exciting era of growth and development across the Greater West Midlands.”

Construction of the design changes is expected to be funded by further Devolution Deal HS2 Growth Strategy funds and will be subject to the necessary planning approvals.