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Health R&D to expand in West Midlands linked to HS2

CGI of HS2 People Mover over Pendigo Lake (connecting HS2 Interchange Station to Birmingham International Airport and the NEC)

The West Midlands Combined Authority is hoping to capitalise on future connections with the new HS2 route in its planning post Covid-19 and beyond. One idea is to create a new state-of-the-art health hub, only forty minutes from London and placed centrally at the HS2 Interchange station.

The Leader of Solihull Council and Portfolio Holder for Environment, Energy and HS2 for West Midlands Combined Authority, Ian Courts, has been talking to Future Cities Forum about the region's green recovery plan post Covid-19, and important job creation around the Arden Cross development linked to the HS2 Interchange station.

'The question is how can we direct job losses into creation of new jobs in the green economy, linked also to roll out of 5G? With internet power vastly amplified there is huge potential for remote medicine. We are looking at creating a health campus in the Arden Cross district of the HS2 Interchange Station.

'What I see happening will be built on the 5G future across innovation and research, creating a hub based on state of the art thinking on the medical and healthcare front but only 40 minutes from London, and within easy reach of a large regional population.

Ian also spoke of his interest and passion to grow the 'green economy' in the region:

'The West Midlands Combined Authority under Andy Sreet is putting together a strong recovery plan and the seven councils involved are behind it.There will inevitably be economic losses, but we have plans around the green economy, the retrofit of homes and office buildings, which will bring massive training opportunities. Those businesses that are best at adapting to social distancing will do best in the current circumstances.'

'When I was appointed two years ago I launched a climate change emergency action plan across both the combined region and Solihull district. In Solihull, several years ago we decided to look at different strands of activity as contributions to cutting carbon emissions. These emissions are one third residential, one third transport and one third business. We need co-operation to tackle emissions and so we are focused on influencing people's behaviour. Engine idling is a real problem around schools and health facilities vets etc, and improving air quality is very important. This is a drum I keep banging. If everyone cut 5 per cent of their emission, the effect would be dramatic.'

Future Cities Forum will be following the focus of 'green economies' in its newsletters and reports this year, where readers will find more detail on how councils are enacting their plans.

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