Solihull HS2 revamp requested by UGC

Thursday 10 August 2017

The UK Central Solihull Urban Growth Company (UGC) has called on HS2 to revamp existing plans for the Arden Cross facility. 

UGC wants HS2 to allow the 350-acre parkway-style development to become a fully-connected urban quarter, which would include an interchange station and create thousands of new jobs and homes in the area.

With the backing of Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council and the West Midlands Combined Authority, the UGC is the first organisation to put forward significant changes at an HS2 station site. 

Huw Rhys Lewis, managing director of UGC, said the proposals represent a chance for Solihull to make the most of HS2. The area is already home to Birmingham Airport, the NEC Arena, Jaguar Land Rover and Birmingham Business Park.

Mr Lewis explained that his company’s Hub Growth and Infrastructure Plan has already looked at the plans of each business and estimates up to 77,500 jobs would be created through the project. 

He added that along with a £4.1 billion boost to the local economy, 4,000 homes and 775,000 sq metres of commercial space would also be introduced as part of the proposals. This would potentially generate thousands of jobs for limited companies and freelance construction workers in the region. 

UGC wants the costs of the upgrades to be paid for by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) through its HS2 Growth Strategy Fund. 

This funding was secured as part of the devolution deal that saw power over budgets, transport, skills, business support and other areas passed down from central government to UK regions. 

Changes would include developing new landscape features, moving roads and updating bridges. Provisions would also have to be made for future public transport connections. 

UGC is now finishing a framework plan, which will outline infrastructure investment and inform future development. It is set to be released in autumn of this year. 

Supporting the proposals, Andy Street, mayor of the West Midlands, said: “HS2 is one of the biggest public sector infrastructure investments ever in this country and the West Midlands is uniquely positioned to benefit from this project.

“This submission demonstrates our ambition in making the most of HS2. What we are looking for is to go beyond a railway station and create something far bolder.”

HS2 is expected to look at the proposals soon and a final decision could be made towards the end of the year. 

By Victoria McDonnell

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