The regeneration of Birmingham city centre is set for a £750 million-plus boost after the Government rubber stamped the expansion of the enterprise zone .
The devolution deal signed yesterday commits to funding the Curzon Street enterprise zone extension, which represents a huge step forward for developing the HS2 station and the wider regeneration area .
The Post understands that agreement, secured after tough negotiations with Government, will be worth between £750 million and £1 billion worth of borrowing against future business rates.
Andy Street, chairman of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership, lobbied hard for the expansion – and said it was a major step forward.
“After years and years of people in the Midlands saying we haven’t got the trust of people in Government, this categorically kills that argument,” he said.
“It has taken a Herculean effort to get everyone in the area to work together but we have managed it and it has killed that dead.”
On the enterprise zone expansion, he added: “I think it is extremely important. We haven’t had a mechanism where we can fund what was needed around Curzon Street until now.
“Now we have this mechanism we will be able to develop it out. It is a crucial decision.”
The enterprise extension will support the delivery of the HS2 Growth Strategy, which includes proposals for the Curzon Masterplan, the UK Central Interchange triangle interchange plans, the UK Central infrastructure package, connectivity to Coventry and enhanced accessibility from the Black Country to Birmingham city centre.
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.
Birmingham City Council deputy leader Ian Ward said the deal was a step in the right direction – but believes it should have been more ambitious.
Addressing an event with city business leaders, the council leadership candidate said he would be keen to see further progress with government in the short-term – like in Greater Manchester, which has renegotiated its deal three times.
He said: “An awful lot of this deal had already been signed up to by government.
“They had already signed up to the HS2 Growth Strategy.
“A lot of it talks about further opportunities and I want to make sure we get straight on that agenda.
“The quicker we are on that agenda, the better for the region.”