Effective infrastructure underpins a successful city – its importance is well-recognised.
Last month, Birmingham hosted a key meeting of metro mayors to unveil ideas and aspirations for the future of UK infrastructure – the National Infrastructure Plan was launched at Birmingham University on 13 October. This is a national issue but it’s very much a Birmingham issue too.
Transport, education and skills, offices and workplaces, homes and public space – are all infrastructure ingredients in the recipe for success.
With Birmingham boosted by major projects like the redevelopment of New Street Station and the arrival of HS2, there’s a real positivity about how the city can shape its development over the next decade and beyond – and secure genuine benefits from this investment.
We are calling for a wider conversation to explore the infrastructure Birmingham needs for the future.
“Purposeful planning and effective design are essential if Birmingham is going to realise the opportunities presented by new infrastructure as well as define the next generation of investment that’s needed,” explains Mark Sitch, Senior Partner.
On 13 November, exactly one month on from the launch of the National Infrastructure Plan here in the city, we, in conjunction with the Birmingham Post and Mayor Andy Street, are pulling together leading voices from across Birmingham to discuss what the city needs and where it should invest.
Called ‘Birmingham 2030’ the Question Time-style debate will explore priorities for the city and opinions on what infrastructure investment could deliver the best results.
“This is about looking at our successful city,” says Sitch, “and identifying how we can ensure Birmingham remains a thriving economy and a great place to live, work, study, spend time and shop come 2030. We’ll be looking at the questions politicians, investors, landowners and businesses need to be addressing and anticipating the best way for Birmingham to tackle them.”
It’s about really, really focusing on the decade ahead to Birmingham in 2030.
The cooling of the investment market in London comes at a time when Birmingham’s many positive initiatives and the delivery of major projects are synchronising. This creates a once in a generation moment for Birmingham.
We are in the early stages of a period of accelerated investment. There is a real pioneering spirit taking place. Investors are starting to bring those remaining and unrealised areas of the Council’s ‘blueprints’ truly out of the shadows. Helping transform Birmingham from a really great and diverse city into one that becomes a shining metropolis.
Andy Street will be giving his viewpoint on what Birmingham is doing and will be doing to be ready for 2030, sharing the platform with Gordon Shearer from KPMG and Victoria Ball from Trowers and Hamlins.
“Infrastructure underpins everything,” says Sitch, “so it’s vital for Birmingham to make the best plans and provision. Across our work, we focus on unlocking the long-term economic, social and environmental value that comes when you coordinate infrastructure investment with planning new homes, workspace, health, education and public space. It’s this combination, and integration of infrastructure and growth that’s so important and why we are discussing these issues.”
Birmingham’s population is over one million people today and, according to the 2011 census, anticipated to grow by around 8%, getting close to 1.2 million people by 2021. The Birmingham Development Plan and the Big City Plan are providing a framework and set out a number of policies and objectives to help manage this growth. In addition, the West Midlands Combined Authority’ Strategic Economic Plan sets out the vision and priority issues to help delivery change.
It’s the inter-relationship between infrastructure and growth where the real potential for positive change exists.
“Look at Grand Central at New Street,” adds Kathryn Ventham, Partner. “That’s an outstanding example of linking transport infrastructure together with retail and leisure, well-designed public space and doing all of that in a way which inspires and creates confidence. HS2 offers similar prospects. What we’re saying is this city is great at embracing the opportunities when people come together and work together. Through this debate, we want to stimulate more of that thinking so, when we look back from 2030, we can all say we planned well and made the most of the chances we had.”
And that’s the point at the end of the day. By anticipating the needs of the city and the next generation, important questions can be asked that inform actions today.
“It’s going to be a provocative debate,” adds Sitch, “no doubt about it. By bringing professionals and politicians together, and others who share a passion for this great city, we’re going to explore some big issues. I’m personally really looking forward to it.”
Read our follow up article 'Let's make the most of aspiration and investment in Birmingham'.
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