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Review of 2017 - December: Council tax rise, Commonwealth Games and 42-storey apartment tower

Our Review of the Year ends with the news in December that council tax in Birmingham was set to add £70 to the average family bill and track cycling at the 2022 Commonwealth Games would be taking place in London

Council tax will rise by almost five per cent next year, it was announced in December

Inflation-busting council tax rise adds £70 to average family's bill

Birmingham's council tax is set to rocket by almost five per cent next year - adding almost £70-a-year to the bill for the average family home.

The inflation-busting increase will add £71.90 to a band D property in the city, up from the current bill of £1,438.

The rise, far more than the 3.1 per cent inflation rate also revealed in December, is the most allowed without a referendum.

The council's 2018/19 budget also included a £54 million cuts package - including £14 million of new savings.

The fresh cuts will mainly fall on social care services which will see £3.5 million reduction.

Birmingham 2022 track cycling will be held 130 miles away

As the dust settled this month on the news that Birmingham was officially confirmed as the host of the 2022 Commonwealth Games, more details started to emerge.

It was revealed the track cycling would in fact be taking place 130 miles away at the Lee Valley Velopark, in London.

With no suitable venue in the West Midlands, organisers of the games found that a Birmingham velodrome would be too expensive and too difficult to build from scratch in the short, four-year time frame.

Cycling is an optional sport for the games but, with it being a major medal winner for Britain and a popular attraction among fans, they were keen to keep it on the Birmingham 2022 agenda.

Green light for new 42-storey apartment tower with running track

City planners threw their support behind plans for an ambitious, landmark residential project in Birmingham's Broad Street.

Planning permission was awarded to build a 42-storey apartment tower opposite Brindleyplace which will have a host of features for residents including a 200-metre running track, smart lifts, gym and 24-hour concierge service.

It will have 481 apartments ranging from studios to three-bedroom units.

Developer Moda Living has valued the scheme at £183 million and one of its directors told the Post earlier in 2017 that it was planning at least one more project in the city.

City planners awarded the green light to Moda Living's ambitious plans for Broad Street in December

Historic Moseley Road Baths SAVED after generous donations from Brummies

The historic Moseley Road Baths was saved for the immediate future this month thanks to donations from hundreds of Brummies.

Moseley Road Baths Action Group raised £36,495 to train lifeguards and cover the day-to-day costs of keeping the pool open.

More than 340 people donated money to an online crowdfunding campaign which raised £17,745 in just 54 days.

This has been topped up with a £10,000 grant from the National Lottery Awards for All fund and £8,750 from Birmingham City Council’s Community Innovation Fund.

The campaign to save the Grade II* listed building has been backed by a range of local celebrities including comedians Barbara Nice, Joe Lycett, Adil Ray and Coronation Street actor Annette Badland.

US hotel group chooses Birmingham to launch first European venue

A US hotel group chose one of Birmingham's most famous yet neglected buildings to launch its first operation in Europe.

Dream Hotels, which runs venues in the US and Asia, announced it had signed up to open a new hotel in the city as part of the regeneration of Methodist Central Hall, in Corporation Street.

The news came as plans were lodged with Birmingham City Council to carry out a wholesale renovation of the Grade II*-listed building worth at least £35 million and which would create around 100 new jobs.

London-based property investor Ciel Capital acquired the hall in May and plans to add a three-storey roof extension to create a 147-bedroom hotel and 75-bedroom apart-hotel.

There will also be a rooftop bar and restaurant and the retention of existing ground floor units for use as retail, offices or café space.

A US hotel group has signed up to a major regeneration of Birmingham's historic Methodist Central Hall(Image: ICA)

£286m business case agreed for major transport hub

Plans for a major transport hub next to Birmingham Airport and the National Exhibition Centre took a significant step forward after council chiefs agreed a £286 million business case.

It detailed the opportunity to create a multi-modal hub at Birmingham International station in Solihull, bringing together future high speed and existing rail services, air, trams, buses, private vehicles, taxis and bicycles through connections to the airport and the new HS2 Interchange Station by 2025.

It follows a £1.3 million, 18-month feasibility study led by the Urban Growth Company, a special-delivery vehicle set up by Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council in 2016 to deliver infrastructure and development across 'The Hub', a regeneration site near junction six of the M42.

The business case has been submitted to the combined authority and the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership in order to secure funding to progress the project to design stage and delivery.

Labour considers moving Bank of England to Birmingham and turning city into UK's economic policy 'hub'

The Bank of England could be moved to Birmingham under a Labour Government, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell revealed.

And it would be joined by two major new financial institutions, making Birmingham the UK's economic policy "hub".

The aim would be to ensure the needs of regions are given more weight when policy decisions are made and to reduce the dominance of London.

Consultants commissioned by Mr McDonnell recommended moving "some functions" of the Bank of England to Birmingham, close to New Street station.

This could include moving the office of the Governor of the Bank, currently Mark Carney, to Birmingham.

Bullring owner Hammerson to take over Merry Hill firm Intu

The owner of Birmingham's Bullring and Grand Central shopping centres announced it planned to take over rival operator Intu.

Hammerson agreed an all-share takeover of Intu, which owns the Merry Hill centre in Dudley, in a £3.4 billion deal which would create Britain's biggest property company.

It would be valued at £21 billion if the deal was given the green light by competition authorities.

Shareholders will vote on the deal in 2018, with Intu having already secured 50 per cent of investor support for the deal.

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