Snow Hill redevelopment is Birmingham’s answer to Canary Wharf
Plans to create new office space and 4,000 new homes
April 13th 2015
Birmingham City Council announced plans earlier this year to regenerate the Snow Hill area as part of its strategy to attract more businesses to the city centre. The plans include better transport links, improved public spaces, and other work designed to attract property developers, financial businesses, and investors in infrastructure. Birmingham’s Big City Plan was set out in 2010 and the latest proposal was unveiled in January, following a deal with central government which will add a further £21.4 million to the current £357 million in local growth funding. The latest proposal is for a mixture of public and private funding to fund a twenty-year programme of improvements.
Speaking to the Telegraph, Sir Albert Bore, the leader of Birmingham City Council, said it was the right time to propose the redevelopment of Snow Hill. “Because of the way that the economy is going in Birmingham, we’ve now got to the point where by the end of 2015 there will be no grade A office space available. We have to take advantage of a steady stream of business enquiries in the city,” he said, and added that there was substantial interest in the proposal from developers and possible tenants.
Birmingham has a designated enterprise zone in the city centre, which includes Snow Hill. The enterprise zone allows the area’s local enterprise partnership to offer discounted business rates and easier planning rules for property development. According to the Telegraph, the Snow Hill ‘master plan’ is expected to create an additional 200,000 square metres of new office space, up to 4,000 new homes, and 10,000 jobs. The Council has claimed that the scheme will be Birmingham’s answer to Canary Wharf, but with operating costs 55% lower than in London. One of the existing office blocks at Snow Hill is expected to house the headquarters of HS2, the high speed rail link planned to connect London to Birmingham by 2026.
Sir Albert Bore said that cuts to local authorities were affecting the Council’s ability to deliver core services, but “on the other side of the coin, we can bring in investment to provide us with some means of ensuring in the future that jobs will be there. It’s two different pots, and they don’t harmoniously sit together. It’s hard for people to understand that we are investing on one hand but cutting services on the other – but we are using financial tools that are not available on the other side.”