City’s quest to become a leading international location set to be supercharged by new plan

Published: Friday, 12th May 2023

A bold masterplan to transform Birmingham into a greener city of more jobs, better transport options and higher quality, energy efficient new homes, is set to be unveiled at a conference next week.

The draft Our Future City: Central Birmingham Framework 2040 has been hailed as the most important strategy written for the city this century ahead of its launch by the council at UKREiiF 2023.

Shaping the next 20 years of development this is a plan that will deliver unprecedented levels of new jobs, homes and green space.

Delivery of the framework’s vision would double the city’s green spaces to a level comparable with Vienna and double Birmingham’s network of active travel routes to 200km – the same level of healthy transport infrastructure as in Copenhagen, with the ultimate aim for the city to become a benchmark for meeting the challenges of the 21st century in its own right.

The framework, which has been developed with technical support given by Arcadis as lead consultants and Howells providing architectural support, outlines the potential to create 74,000 new jobs – an 80 per cent increase on the city centre's current employment capacity, as well up to 35,000 new homes for Birmingham’s young and growing population.

And, by creating vibrant new neighbourhoods, there would be a doubling in population density, bringing Birmingham into line with other major European cities, but not at the expense of green open space – with a pledge that the concrete bound mistakes of the past will not be repeated as part of the council’s effort to tackle the climate emergency on the city’s route to net zero carbon emissions.

This plan also marks a major change from previous approaches to the city centre, with a clear intention to spread the benefits of development and investment into inner city areas, supporting access to infrastructure, jobs and improved public spaces.

As such, the new framework goes beyond the Inner Ring Road, in recognition of the reality that central Birmingham comprises several destinations, centres, quarters and neighbourhoods each with their own offer, character and opportunities that can deliver growth for all across our communities. The framework is geographically grouped into five key zones:

  • City Heart: Bull Ring, Colmore Business District, Snowhill and Steelhouse, Southside, Town, Westside;
  • Central North: Eastside and Aston Triangle, Gun Quarter, Nechells, Newtown;
  • Central East: Bordesley, Digbeth, Small Heath;
  • Central South: Balsall Heath, Edgbaston, Highgate;
  • Central West: Hockley, Jewellery Quarter, Ladywood, Spring Hill.

In addition, the framework is seen as critical as meeting some of the city’s major challenges including unemployment which is double the national average, the ten-year gap in life expectancy between the poorest and most affluent areas in the city and the fact that over 40 per cent of Birmingham’s children grow up in relative poverty.

Speaking ahead of the launch, Cllr Ian Ward, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said: Our Future City: Central Birmingham Framework will create a city that works for the people and communities of Birmingham.

“Like all great cities, Birmingham forever reinvents itself and our transformation is never-ending.

“Even so, our emergence in recent years underlines why I've labelled this a Golden Decade of opportunity for the businesses, people, and communities of Birmingham.

“There's a real buzz about Birmingham at the moment, a growing city of enormous potential and - as we showed to great effect last summer when hosting the Commonwealth Games - we're ready to fulfil that potential.

“Now this framework, the most important strategy for Birmingham this century, is set to supercharge our quest to be a leading international city.”

Simon Marks, Birmingham and Midlands City Executive for Arcadis, added: “Arcadis are privileged to have been the lead consultant in developing this exciting framework for Birmingham. The vision is bold and rightly ambitious – so much has been achieved in recent years, and the Commonwealth Games proved we can deliver.

“The scale and nature of the proposed transformation has not been seen in over a century. Moreover, inclusive growth is at its heart where the communities and citizens of Birmingham will directly benefit from the transformation.

“As we move forwards into delivery, we will be reinstating the reputation of Birmingham as a leading international city of the future.”

Howells Partner, Glenn Howells said: “Our Future City: Central Birmingham Framework 2040, represents a once in a generation ambition for equitable growth for Birmingham.

“The city is setting ambitious targets to double its green space, double its active travel routes and half its pollution levels – for the benefit of all its current and future residents while delivering on homes and jobs in emerging sectors.

“As Howells, we are located and invested in the heart of this industrious city and have worked in partnership with the council and Arcadis team to develop an inclusive framework that we believe will establish a clear, city-scale ambition for the next 20 years of economic and social growth. Our goal is for Birmingham to set a benchmark for transformative change that builds on its strong history, demonstrating what the future can hold for any growing city striving to create a sustainable future for all.”

The draft framework can be viewed via a dedicated page on the council website.

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