Exploring the regeneration investment pipelines, opportunities and transport innovation schemes transforming the Midlands

Ahead of Regeneration and Transport Growth in the Midlands, (organised by Waterfront Conference Company, Freshwater’s sister Company) Sandeep Shingadia, Director of Development and Delivery at Transport for West Midlands, shares some of his views on the biggest transport growth and regeneration opportunities in the Midlands.

What are the biggest transport growth and regeneration opportunities in the Midlands, currently and in the future?

Focusing on the West Midlands, as the UK’s Growth Capital, there are huge opportunities for linking transport, regeneration and development together, especially at UK Central (as one of Europe’s largest investment opportunities); Birmingham, Coventry and Wolverhampton city centres; and our Inclusive Growth Corridors.

Key stats:

• The region boasts a trade surplus with China (+£160m) and the United States (+£4bn)
• Birmingham has been named as the UK’s most investable city by Europe’s top real estate investors
• Coventry’s rate of job creation from FDI is six times higher than other UK regional cities and double that of London
• £5.1bn is being invested in High Speed 2 rail and local public transport
• The National Exhibition Centre near Birmingham’s international airport is the UK’s top exhibition venue
• Wolverhampton’s £250m Integrated Transport Interchange will provide a state-of-the-art connectivity hub for the region

What will the further development opportunities created by HS2 be?

HS2 is at the core of plans for growth and improved connectivity in the West Midlands. Whilst the economic and transport benefits we anticipate from new HS2 services connecting the West Midlands nationally are significant, this is not the whole story.

The delivery of HS2 will also allow us to use our existing rail network over the next 30 years to deliver better connectivity within our metropolitan area, with our wider West Midlands region and with the rest of the UK.

HS2 has helped catalyse this regeneration and now underpins the assumptions in our economic, planning and transport strategies which aim to deliver a happier, healthier, better connected and more prosperous West Midlands. HS2 provides new capacity for travel across Britain and brings key centres closer together.

Furthermore, it will allow us to reprioritise the capacity on our existing rail network to facilitate the West Midlands’ aspirations for improved local and regional passenger rail services and growth in rail freight. It is vital that two new HS2 stations are plugged to local transport networks – enhancing access to jobs and unlocking new growth opportunities across our area. The West Midlands has therefore developed an adopted HS2 Connectivity Package to ensure we are HS2 ready, comprising of 20 transport schemes (including local rail schemes). This is a core component of the West Midlands’ Local Transport Plan.

What does the Midlands need to do in order to improve its connectivity and unlock regeneration?

Bodies such as the WMCA need long term investment and access to new financial tools to take forward transformational connectivity.

Future programmes:

• Delivering over £5bn in transport upgrades and creating an integrated world-class network
• Delivering £50m in investment to create the UK’s first multi-city 5G testbed across Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Coventry
• Developing the UK’s first Future Mobility Zone and the UK’s new Mobility Data Institute, as well as the UK’s largest connected and autonomous vehicles testbed
• Delivering a £4.4bn High Speed 2 Growth Strategy, including the Curzon Masterplan and 20 transport schemes to fully connect HS2 stations to local transport networks and communities
• Extending the Metro system, by 30km by 2026, including East-West Metro with light rail extensions to Dudley—Brierley Hill and through East Birmingham to North Solihull and the High Speed 2 Interchange Station
• Building seven new suburban rail stations and 31km of new track to provide 20,000 new seats
• Delivering total investment of £280m up to 2026 to deliver the longest bus rapid transit in Europe, covering 122km

How can the delivery of infrastructure projects be improved by collaboration at early stages to maximise the development opportunities and growth potential of the project?

Movement for Growth, the West Midlands statutory transport plan, outlines our strategic approach to addressing transport challenges and opportunities in the West Midlands metropolitan area. Through the “Movement for Growth” 2026 Delivery Plan, we are committed to the delivery of inclusive growth corridors.

These corridors provide one of many opportunities to bring together key stakeholders, and to work collaboratively with partners to maximise development opportunities and inclusive growth. Early stage collaboration has been key for the development of the corridors, as our aspiration is to catalyse and deliver genuinely high-quality housing development and transformation infrastructure that supports strong and socially inclusive communities.

Large-scale regeneration in Birmingham, Coventry and Wolverhampton is only the start. In smaller urban centres across the region the WMCA’s urban town centre improvement programme is further reviving their commercial appeal and redesigning the public realm – making better, inclusive places.

Our Inclusive Growth Corridors approach is being pursued for:

Wolverhampton – Walsall:

• Major regeneration and development opportunity, with circa £100m transport upgrades planned to support the construction of over 4,500 new homes, as well as major redevelopment in Walsall and Wolverhampton urban centres.

West Bromwich to Dudley

• Inclusive Growth Corridor: the driver for this is a 11km Metro extension between Wednesbury and Brierley Hill links the Black Country with HS2 and supports the regeneration of Brierley Hill and Dudley town centres − 17 new Metro stations will support investment and regeneration opportunities throughout the corridor.

What new transport infrastructure does the Midlands need?

In light of the Climate Crisis and the growing importance of technology, the Midlands needs a continued investment in sustainable transport infrastructure including intra-city mass transit networks and new technological opportunities. These opportunities must include a national revolution in the investment of clean vehicles, clean fuels and supporting clean infrastructure.

To learn more about the key transport and development plans set to modernise the Midlands, register to attend Waterfront’s Regeneration and Transport Growth in the Midlands 2019 conference on 14th November in Birmingham.