UK Central well on its way to 100,000 jobs boost

International investors are being invited to get involved in one of Europe’s largest development opportunities at this week’s MIPIM real estate trade show in Cannes.

UK Central, a unique concentration of assets and opportunities at the heart of Britain, is gathering momentum. Attendees to Greater Birmingham’s stand at MIPIM 2014 will hear first hand from key players in the scheme, including Councillor Ian Courts of Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council and Sir Albert Bore, Leader of Birmingham City Council.

Construction is well underway at the UK Central site on the £150 million, seven-storey, 538,000 sq ft leisure and entertainment complex Resorts World Birmingham, which will open next year.

Birmingham Airport’s runway extension is due to be completed this spring, which will see the airport able to handle long-haul aircraft from around the globe for the first time, opening direct routes to West Coast USA, China, South Africa and South America.

Last September, Aero Engine Controls, part of the Rolls-Royce Group, started construction on a £60 million, 300,000 sq ft Advanced Manufacturing and Technology Facility, which will become the centre point of its global operation.

UK Central, in Solihull, is home to Birmingham Airport, the National Exhibition Centre and Jaguar Land Rover and is the site of the West Midlands’ proposed new High Speed Rail Interchange – where the junction of the north-south High Speed 2 route and the spur linking to Birmingham City Centre, Curzon Street station meet. Construction is set to start on the HS2 line and stations in 2017 with the first passenger services arriving in Birmingham in 2026.

Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Regeneration, Councillor Ian Courts said:

“UK Central in Solihull is called just that, because it is central to the UK and is one of the best connected investment areas, which HS2 will only enhance. A talented workforce, a selection of investment opportunities and a ‘can do’ approach in an area with outstanding culture and heritage, beautiful countryside and excellent education, makes it the best place to invest, work and spend your leisure time.”

To capitalise on the wealth of major national assets in the region, it has been zoned. A masterplan sets out four economic opportunity zones (business, innovation, entertainment and High Speed 2) offering up to 230 hectares of potential development sites to 2040 and delivering 100,000 new jobs – with more than 110 hectares currently made available.

  • Zone 1 (UK Central Hub) is centred around Birmingham Airport, the National Exhibition Centre, high quality investment sites for advanced manufacturing , office and commercial development and the proposed High Speed Rail Interchange, with up to 140 hectares of development capacity. There are over 54 hectares of available development sites, including 14 hectares of business park opportunities; 40 hectares at Birmingham Airport for a broad range of Airport related uses such as hangars, warehousing, offices and hotels; together with a range of opportunities at the NEC
  • Zone 2 (North Solihull) with its £1.8bn regeneration programme, offers further potential for retail, leisure and community development.
  • Zone 3 (Solihull Town Centre), a major retail, leisure and office destination with plans for a large-scale extension to the Town Centre coming forward, with a total potential of 12.8 hectares for residential, retail, office leisure and hotel development.
  • Zone 4 (Blythe Valley Park), a masterplanned campus combining a countryside park setting with direct access to the national motorway network, offers 29 hectares long term development potential, including residential and mixed use alongside large scale advanced manufacturing, higher education or health facilities. Some 20 hectares is currently available

Last year, Solihull was named a UK top three location for enterprise and top 10 for business – alongside cities such as Oxford, Cambridge and Edinburgh (Santander 2013) – and the best place to live in the UK (uSwitch Quality of Life Index), with outstanding quality of life and one of the greenest environments in the country.

The central location, skilled workforce and national and international connectivity attract the investment that is delivering economic growth rates more than 150 per cent higher than the national average.

UK Central offers not only exciting development opportunities, but the long term commitment and support to enable businesses to prosper and grow:

  • A proactive planning authority providing bespoke project management support for investors
  • Access to business development and networks for new investors and occupiers
  • Training and recruitment packages
  • A dedicated client relationship manager
  • An ambitious, dynamic Local Enterprise Partnership leading economic growth which has identified UK Central as a clear priority in its strategy and programmes

Sir Albert Bore, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said:

“The UK Central project is one of the most exciting in Europe, offering huge opportunities for investors, the Greater Birmingham area and the country as a whole.

“At this year’s MIPIM, we will be showcasing its potential to event attendees. With further investment, UK Central’s unique concentration of opportunities can build on the massive jobs boost already generated, creating a number of commercial benefits for those involved.”