Meeting the development challenge together

By on 20/06/2014 in Blog, Cllr Ali

Councillor Tahir Ali, cabinet member for development, transport and the economy, considers how Birmingham City Council is meeting the challenge of growth and development.

Birmingham is a growing city and is expected to grow by a further 150,000 people in the next 20 years.

The additional population means more than 80,000 households needing homes, plus the need for at least 128,000 more jobs and over 36,000 additional school places.

Such challenges require a strategic response.

The Birmingham Development Plan sets out how the city will develop over the period to 2031, identifying where the homes, jobs, services and infrastructure will be delivered, and the type of places and environments that will be created.

It has plans for 52,000 homes within the city and a sustainable extension to the city of 5,000 further homes, with additional employment land to serve new businesses and create jobs.

We have a clear direction of how the city will develop, and our policies and proposals will create the framework to help achieve this for the benefit of local people. A key element of our plans for growth and jobs is our city centre enterprise zone, the only city centre zone in the UK and without doubt the largest and most ambitious example of such enterprise support. Plans are being put in place for the first building at Arena Central and, using a large chunk of enterprise zone funds, we are helping the redevelopment of Paradise Circus.

But it doesn't stop there. The decision to relocate the wholesale market to the food hub at Witton will be a catalyst for the regeneration of the Sothern Gateway area of the city centre. This is a major opportunity to expand the core city centre through comprehensive redevelopment to deliver a vibrant new destination in the heart of Birmingham.

Looking even further ahead to the arrival of HS2, this will provide a once in a lifetime opportunity to transform this great city. And we are ahead of the game here; the transformation of New Street station is well advanced and the Curzon Street master plan is a 25-year vision for what will be one of the biggest urban regeneration schemes in the country.

But with this development we need to provide homes as well as employment. And Birmingham has a number of key locations outside the city centre where there is significant opportunity for house building.

We are currently preparing a a master plan for the Greater Icknield area, which is one of the largest housing development opportunities in the city with potential for 3,000 new homes and 1,000 new jobs. A 43-hectare site in Selly Oak provides another exciting opportunity for investors to build houses. This is one of the premier housing sites in the Midlands, with potential to deliver 650 houses.

This council actively supports housing growth and to that end we have developed a housing growth plan to accelerate housing development and we are working with developers and housing associations to bring forward viable sites.

We are using a 'build now, pay later' approach via the Birmingham Municipal Housing Trust to build new homes for sale on council land. Under this model the council does not receive payment for the land on which new homes are being built until the individual plots are sold to owner occupiers. The council also obtains planning permission up front, manages site assembly and deals with surveys and ground conditions ahead of development. More than 400 homes have been sold by developers on council-owned land using this approach.

So we are rising to the challenges faced by local people by making the most of the development opportunities that exist in Birmingham, and together as a city we will continue our journey forward.

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