Business leaders have welcomed a vow from the Chancellor to extend Birmingham’s enterprise zone – which would help create thousands of jobs.
George Osborne has announced an expansion of the city centre enterprise zone to take in the regeneration area around Curzon HS2 Station.
While his offer is only under a Conservative government, Andy Street, chair of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP), said it was vital the next government, regardless of colour, honours this.
The Curzon regeneration is a chance to create 36,000 and an £1.4 billion a year into the city economy – as well as vital work to break down the concrete collar stifling the east side of the city.
It opens up the possibility of raising vital funds, similar to the £275 million investment plan funded by borrowing against future business rate uplift which has helped get the Paradise scheme off the ground.
Mr Street said: “This announcement would support the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership to fund a package of targeted local measures to truly maximise the growth potential around the station, drive regional productivity and in turn the net gain to UK PLC.
“We are already pioneering the use of retained business rates to stimulate development in the city centre to great effect. Our £275 million Enterprise Zone Investment Plan, funded by borrowing undertaken by Birmingham City Council against future business rate uplift, has enabled the commencement of works on the £500 million redevelopment of Paradise Circus which will deliver more than 6,000 jobs, the £37.95 million extension of the Midland Metro tram system and the £30 million city centre public realm improvement programme.
“We hope that regardless of the outcome of the general election, the new Government will support the extension of our enterprise zone in both time and geography, helping us to create an additional 36,000 jobs in the Curzon area and generate an additional £1.4 billion GVA per annum for the local economy.”
Liz Peace CBE, chair of the Birmingham Curzon Regeneration Company Shadow Board, said: “The extension of the Enterprise Zone in terms of both time and geographical coverage will be hugely valuable for us in enabling investment in infrastructure and unlocking growth in the Curzon area. We will be able to make long term plans that will support further local investment across a much wider area - and that will be really important as we seek to maximise the local economic benefits from High Speed 2.”