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WMCA to invest £45m as partners at Arden Cross and HS2 site agree early land release for development

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Thousands of new jobs and homes are set to be created in Solihull, and up to three years earlier than originally planned, after a set of development-enabling collaboration agreements were completed today (Thursday 24 March) which will maximise the benefits that HS2 will bring to the region.

The agreements have been signed by the public and private sector organisations working on the 140-hectare (346-acre) Arden Cross development site in Solihull which includes the location of the new HS2 Interchange Station. 

The signatories are Arden Cross Ltd (the landowners), the Department for Transport, HS2 Ltd, Solihull Council and the Urban Growth Company, who have committed to a shared objective to seek to release land around the station for development as early as possible. 

The negotiations have been supported by the West Midlands Combined Authority, which has confirmed it is providing a £45m loan facility to help fund infrastructure at the site.  This will include multi-storey car parking at Arden Cross for HS2 passengers, which is currently designed as a large surface car park, to free up more space for development.     

The potential for comprehensive development of the site paves the way to attract new investment and create a new and vibrant mixed-use destination with the station at its heart.  It means that many of the anticipated jobs and homes could now be delivered in an early phase from 2026 onwards, which is before HS2’s planned opening between 2029 and 2033.

Collaboration over the coming months will enable important conditions of the agreements to be met, such as the continued detailed design of multi-storey car parking at Arden Cross.  From Summer 2023, subject to the conditions being met, the Urban Growth Company will be able to draw down against a £50m grant commitment from Government which was made in March 2021, along with the regional £45m loan facility, to progress construction work. 

HS2 Minister, Andrew Stephenson MP, was joined by regional partners at the Arden Cross site today, to mark the signing of the agreements and to see how early work at the site is progressing and the location of the proposed multi-storey car park. 

He said: “Today’s agreement is a landmark moment for regeneration plans around the new Interchange Station and demonstrates the Government’s commitment to work with stakeholders to cultivate local growth, not only in the region but along the entire HS2 route.

“Building on the £50m funding we have already pledged to support the wider area growth plans, we’re helping to reinvigorate the local economy and boost connectivity even sooner with the potential of 3,000 new homes and 27,000 jobs from 2026.”

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, supported the negotiations and commented: “Arden Cross is the most attractive investment opportunity anywhere in the UK, with the potential for thousands of new homes and jobs, and it’s right here in the heart of the West Midlands.

“I am delighted that not only do we have such an exciting opportunity on our doorstep, but that the whole region has worked together in partnership with Government to bring it forward.

“From our £45million loan to the new set of agreements signed, today’s announcements will help unlock the potential of this site and ensure the West Midlands makes the absolute most out of HS2’s arrival.”

Cllr Ian Courts, leader of Solihull Council and WMCA portfolio lead for environment, energy & HS2, said: “From my very first discussions about HS2 and talking through the early plans, I have been absolutely committed to ensuring we maximise the economic and employment benefits of HS2 coming to Solihull. 

“That meant making the most of the land in and around our new HS2 Station, and moving from acres of apron car parking to a multi-storey option is obviously a better use of this valuable land resource. This is one of the best-connected places in the UK and presents endless opportunities which we must seize whilst we can.

“I look forward to seeing new investment and proposals coming forward that will deliver our collective vision of bringing new homes, jobs and enterprise to Solihull as part of the Arden Cross development, on the back of the economic boost from HS2 arriving in 2026.” 

Ben Gray, development director with Arden Cross Ltd, said: “With a legal framework in place between the different stakeholders involved in Arden Cross, we can now accelerate our delivery programme that sets out the phases for this major mixed-use site.

“With the prospect of 27,000 new jobs, 3,000 new homes and up to 6 million sq ft of new commercial and employment space, Arden Cross is a rare example of the ability to create a global destination right at the heart of the UK. The interest we’re already seeing in the site underscores the public-private approach to working in partnership in the interests of the region and its people.”

Nick Brown, chair of the Urban Growth Company, said: “This demonstrates the power of using regional expertise, with public and private sector partnering, to invest in infrastructure and remove barriers to growth.  This will deliver jobs, homes, connectivity and opportunities for local people, ahead of HS2’s opening.  It’s an innovative blueprint that can be rolled out along the route to generate wider economic growth.”    

Bill Price, project client for Interchange Station at HS2 Ltd, said: “This agreement is another important step towards unlocking the huge development opportunities provided by HS2’s Interchange station in Solihull. The zero-carbon station is at the heart of the HS2 network and is enabling our regional partners to drive economic growth plans which will lead to new jobs, homes and commercial space, bringing major benefits to the Midlands economy.”

Photo credit: WMCA / HS2 Ltd

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