We’ve recovered but there’s more to be done across the city
Leader of the Council Cllr John Clancy and Chief Exceutive Mark Rogers answer a question posed by the BBC asked earlier this week
Has Birmingham recovered from the 2008 recession?
The short answer is yes we have, but there is much more to be done to make sure an economic boom based largely on the city centre is replicated in inner city areas and suburbs, spreading out wealth and opportunities to all citizens.
The transformation of the central core is stunning, but a greater challenge is rebalancing growth across the entire city, and making sure that growth is inclusive and brings benefits to all. That means a 40-ward economic growth strategy, not a one ward strategy.
Take a stroll around our fast-changing city and you can’t fail to notice cranes on the skyline and scenes of unprecedented activity as we galvanise plans to create jobs and homes.
Work is racing ahead on the huge Paradise scheme, a £500 million project to transform Birmingham’s historic civic heart, creating quality offices, a four-star hotel and, crucially, providing 12,000 new jobs.
Metro trams are at last running through the city centre, linking Snow Hill to New Street Station, delivering an estimated 3.5 million passengers from the Black Country into the heart of Birmingham’s shopping district. And funding is in place for further extensions to run trams to Centenary Square and Five Ways, and eventually eastwards to Birmingham Airport and the NEC.
Other development schemes are coming on at pace including transforming the vast area between the Bullring and Digbeth’s wholesale markets – the £500 million Birmingham Smithfield plan. This will be one of the largest urban regeneration schemes in Europe and promises to deliver an exciting sustainable space with 2,000 homes.
Underpinning all of this activity is an economic game changer of unparalleled significance – the arrival of HS2 in 2026, which will position Birmingham city centre and Birmingham Airport as a gateway to both the UK and European high-speed rail network.
We are, of course, not simply sitting back complacently and waiting for the day high speed trains pull into Curzon Street. Almost £1 billion of investment is being committed to redevelop a part of Birmingham that is set to be transformed by the arrival of HS2 in the city.
We’ve published the Curzon Investment Plan, an ambitious 30 year strategy to unlock and regenerate 141 hectares of land around the HS2 station, which will create 36,000 jobs, 4,000 new homes, and unlock more than half a million square metres of commercial floor space by connecting the east side of Birmingham to the rest of the city and beyond.
Don’t take our word for it: Birmingham is getting better, and we’ve got the proof.
To start with, we’re by far the most popular destination for people moving out of London. More than 6,000 people left the Capital last year to begin a new life here.
The Greater Birmingham area is becoming a magnet for foreign firms to relocate. There were 81 Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) projects last year, bringing jobs and creating wealth – the best record of any of the English Local Enterprise Partnerships.
With an economy worth £23.2 billion Birmingham’s workplace based Gross Value Added is the highest of any city outside London. With 13.5 per cent growth rate since 2011 it is also one of the fastest growing core city economies in the UK.
Birmingham, the city of a thousand trades in Victoria times, is maintaining that tradition of entrepreneurship and the cradle of small businesses. Some 20,200 new firms were registered here during 2015 – more than any other city outside London.
With a quality of life ranked as the highest of any UK city outside of London, it is little wonder that tourists want to spend time in Birmingham enjoying a vibrant arts and culture scene as well as the best shopping experience outside of the Capital.
So, all of the elements are in place to grow a better Birmingham, for everyone.
And as the city’s population grows we know we must make sure decent jobs are available close to the new homes we have to build. Birmingham must become a place where we grow a large number of vibrant satellite areas of industry and business activity.
The city centre is already a world beater. The challenge, which we will meet, is to make sure the rest of the city reaps the rewards.