Key Development Projects
Within the borough of Solihull the UK Central strategic economic growth area is a prime inward investment location, ranked in the top 10 of UK destinations for business. Positioned in the centre of England, UK Central is home to the National Exhibition Centre, Genting’s new £150m Resorts World, the global automotive brand Jaguar Land Rover and the development site identified for the High Speed Rail (HS2) Central Interchange.
The area is connected to 35 million people within a two hour travel time and an extensive route network of destinations across the globe. UK Central boasts one of the strongest economies outside of London, contributing £5.1bn to UK GDP. UK Central is already renowned for high value-added manufacturing with particular expertise in low carbon, intelligent transportation systems and niche vehicles. Other core business sectors include construction & building technologies, science and engineering; business services; aerospace; healthcare technology; retail and leisure. The area is also rapidly becoming a focus point for clean and renewable technology forms, supporting a move to a low carbon economy within the region.
The area accommodates two major business parks, plus a wide range of urban and rural property development opportunity sites, which provide a mix of ready-to-occupy offices and land ripe for re-development. Solihull MBC fully recognises the potential of the UK Central area and working in collaboration with the Urban Growth Company, a Council owned special purpose delivery vehicle established to lead and develop major infrastructure within the area, the Council is fully committed to maximising the opportunities presented by HS2 and to supporting organisations which are actively involved in developing a sustainable long-term manufacturing and office presence in the region.
Solihull Town Centre
Solihull Town Centre is already a very well established retail, leisure and office location with a number of high profile occupiers. The Touchwood Shopping Centre provides Solihull and the wider region with an attractive and vibrant range of stores, being home to John Lewis, Apple and other attractive brands including Tesla, Joules and Swarovski.
The Town Centre has also been identified as having capacity to accommodate new development particularly in the office and residential sectors. The Council is currently in the process of developing a revised Town centre Masterplan which identifies the strategic development opportunity sites as well as the additional infrastructure requirements necessary to facilitate this development and wider growth.
The Council controls a substantial land holding within the Town Centre which gives the public sector the necessary leverage to be able to make the strategic interventions required to drive forward change. This could potentially be achieved through working with partners but also by progressing those opportunity sites already fully within Council control. Higher density residential development within the centre and the accelerated supply of Grade A office space is considered key to this strategy, which can in turn help to drive the evolution of the retail offer and night-time economy.
For a number of years Solihull MBC has been successful in promoting regeneration and economic growth in North Solihull through the North Solihull Partnership which focused on the renewal of Village Centres and investment in new residential development.
Several opportunities still need to be progressed through to delivery and working in parallel with the wider UK Central agenda, there is the opportunity to bring forward substantial additional housing stock and significant Town Centre renewal through new sustainable mixed use commercial developments in Chelmsley Wood and Kingshurst.
One Public Estate
In connection with the strategic projects associated with the renewal of the borough’s Town Centres the necessity to work with Public Sector partners to pool strategic requirements and land holdings has become apparent. The opportunity exists to build on these positive relationships to realise the development of a truly One Public Estate focused asset base for Solihull both in terms of the delivery of front of house services and back office support, maximising the use of assets to enable efficiencies and create additional development opportunities which can deliver housing and contribute to the long term sustainability of the High Street.
Working with the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA)
Working closely with the WMCA, significant funding streams have been identified to deliver an infrastructure package for Solihull which will recognise the impact of HS2 and enable the UK Central area to maximise its potential whilst also facilitating those development opportunities necessary to promote the continued growth and prosperity of the wider borough and region for years to come.
Funding has been secured to progress the feasibility of a number of key development opportunities which would provide a significant boost to the supply of new housing and office accommodation as well as enhancing the physical environment in a number of strategic locations.
The next exciting step in the process is to translate this feasibility work into detailed business cases and to obtain the requisite Council resolutions to enable the delivery of these key strategic projects through identifying the appropriate funding and delivery mechanisms.
The Council recognises the strategic opportunities available to it to capitalise on its land holdings both from an operational, economic and regeneration perspective to maximise value. In light of this, Solihull MBC has adopted a Property Investment Strategy which gives it the ability to actively invest in acquiring and developing strategic sites. It also has the ability to enhance its operational and investment land and property portfolios to realise betterment and if appropriate maximise financial returns, which can in turn be re-invested.