In the absence of MIPIM 2020, the world’s leading real estate market event, investors came together last week for the first Midlands UK Forum for Growth.
The three-day fully virtual event showcased over £17.5 billion worth of investment opportunities across housing, connectivity, regeneration, technology and green energy in the region.
UK Central Solihull played a key part in the event, emphasising to prospective investors why Solihull is one of the strongest performing economies in the UK and how it offers a world class, connected location to live, work and invest. One of the flagship investment areas in the Midlands, UK Central Solihull is ranked in the top 10 UK destinations for business, contributes £5.1 billion to UK GDP and connects to 35 million people within a two-hour travel time.
The Forum is the UK’s first virtual trade and investment event of its kind and included many high profile speakers from across the region such as Midlands Engine Chairman Sir John Peace, Mayor of Leicester Sir Peter Soulsby and West Midlands Mayor Andy Street. Investors and market leaders from across the world participated as the UK Government drives forward plans to ‘level up’ the country with a 10-point plan for a green recovery.
Representing Solihull, Cllr Ian Courts, Leader of the Council and Portfolio Holder for the Economy, delivered a well-received presentation alongside Jonathan Bretherton (Managing Director of the Urban Growth Company) on investment opportunities in Solihull. Amongst the exciting opportunities covered were plans for the Council-owned Eastgate and Westgate sites on Homer Road as well as some of the wider opportunities outlined in the Town Centre Masterplan approved earlier this month.
Delivery of the bold new Masterplan in full would see 1,178 new homes built, along with the potential provision of up to 50,000 sq. m. of office floor space and 40,000 sq. m. retail, leisure and active ground floor space in the town centre. Economic assessments show that the proposals have the potential to deliver significant benefits for the town centre. It is estimated that the Masterplan could lead to £395m Gross Capital Expenditure and up to £150m GVA in the construction phase, provide over 4,000 new jobs and produce £200m in GVA.
Cllr Courts was also invited to appear on a discussion panel focusing on ‘Infrastructure, People & Policy’ alongside Samantha Veal, CEO Blueprint (Igloo Regeneration); Alun Rogers, (Chair, Stoke-on-Trent & Staffs Local Enterprise Partnership); Nick Barton, (Chief Executive of Birmingham Airport) and Andrew Pritchard (Director of Policy & Infrastructure at East Midlands Councils).
During the panel session, Cllr Courts reflected on the economic challenges that the COVID crisis had caused this year but highlighted the strong position that Solihull remains in. The Council Leader celebrated the progress that HS2 had made in 2020 and the jobs that it will bring to the local region. Development at the ‘Hub’ remains on track and significant progress is being made in Solihull Town Centre. Cllr Courts also emphasised how Solihull had a clear plan of how to recover from the COVID crisis and how town centres need to adapt to changing consumer habits such as increased online shopping.
Cllr Courts, Leader of Solihull Council and Portfolio Holder for the Economy, said:
“Conferences like this offer a really important opportunity to highlight significant investment opportunities. The fact that so many key stakeholders were able to come together for this first-of-its-kind virtual event reflects the versatility and adaptability that is present across the region. Although we couldn’t meet face to face, the Midlands UK Forum for Growth 2020 has shown that there is still a huge appetite to share and explore upcoming investment opportunities in the Midlands.
“Even in these difficult times the potential for growth in Solihull and across the Midlands is immense, particularly with infrastructure projects materialising such as HS2. In Solihull, there are a range of exciting opportunities which are attracting investors from far and wide, including the revitalisation of the town centre with the emerging Eastgate and Westgate schemes and the development of the ‘Hub’ area, Europe’s best-connected destination for business, leisure and living. It was a privilege to speak with stakeholders and to present the diverse array of investment prospects that Solihull has to offer.
“The government’s Spending Review earlier this week has laid bare the extent of the economic challenges facing all sectors of the economy. We know that Solihull has a huge role to play in the region’s economic fight back and in helping to deliver on the government’s levelling up agenda. Solihull remains one of the UK’s most attractive inward investment locations and key factors such as our economic dynamism, well-balanced sector profile, and highly-qualified workforce mean that we are well placed to lead in this recovery”