Leader of Solihull Council on Future Cities Forum April infrastructure panel
HS2 People Mover over Pendigo Lake (connecting Solihull HS2 interchange station to the NEC and Birmingham Airport)
Leader of Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council, and HS2 / environment portfolio holder for West Midlands Combined Authority, Cllr Ian Courts will be speaking at our infrastructure forum this month along with Zurich International Airport's Chief Commercial Officer Stefan Gross, Transport for London's Head of City Planning Alex Williams and Jolyon Brewis, Partner at architects Grimshaw.
Cllr Courts has an environment brief at the WMCA that covers clean energy and HS2, while Grimshaw has recently been appointed by Zurich Airport to work on the creation of India's 'greenest airport.'
The forum will look at the development of vital infrastructure in the UK to support economic success post pandemic and the balance for the environment in the move towards net zero for cities.
Ease of driving to the HS2 Interchange Station at Solihull and spaces to park has been a concern for councillors, and how this would affect green belt land.
However last month an announcement was made of £50 million of central government funding, to deliver a multi-storey car park at the HS2 Interchange Station, which is set to be matched by a regional contribution of £45 million.
The car park with direct links via HS2 to London in 38 minutes is seen as 'extremely attractive' to those who want to live, work and invest in Solihull. The adjacent UK Central Hub, builds on the connectivity and opportunity the station brings, and includes the 340 acre Arden Cross development site.
Leaders at Solihull Council have been campaigning hard to progress an alternative solution to the extensive ground level car parking originally proposed in the High Speed Rail (London - West Midlands ) Act which received royal assent in 2017. The original plans to build 7,400 parking spaces would have seen approximately 22 acres of green belt land tarmacked over for surface level parking. Securing funding for the multi-storey car park is a significant milestone for Solihull as it frees up valuable land that can now generate much needed jobs, homes and growth.
Cllr Courts said:
'Five years ago we established a vision at the Council for how the land around HS2 Interchange Station could be developed to bring maximum benefits for Solihull. I set the four guiding principles of connectivity, optimising land use, integrating green and blue infrastructure and good design. We were never comfortable with the prospect of such a connected location in the borough being simply used for a surface car park. The Hub will create the environment to support new and safeguarded jobs, up to 5,000 new homes and 650,000 square meters of commercial space.'
Last year, Cllr Courts announced a target of a quarter of a million trees to be planted in Solihull over the course of ten years as a key part of efforts to tackle climate change, reduce harmful air pollution and support local wildlife.