The news that Royal Assent is to be granted today (Thu 23 Feb) for the high-speed rail route between London and the West Midlands has been welcomed across Greater Birmingham, Coventry and the Black Country.
The hybrid bill will become an Act of Parliament this morning and means the West Midlands can press ahead with its plans to use HS2 as a catalyst to drive economic growth and deliver an additional £14bn to the UK economy (gross value added).
The Midlands HS2 Growth Strategy, which has been adopted by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) with support from central Government and HS2 Ltd is set to also deliver 104,000 jobs, 2,000 apprenticeships, an increase in skills, additional support for local businesses, and improved accessibility with over two million people connected to the two HS2 station sites in central Birmingham and Solihull.
Although Royal Assent is only just being granted, the region has already taken advantage of HS2-related momentum. The National College for High Speed Rail, which will train the next generation of high-speed rail engineers, is being built in Birmingham’s Learning Quarter and is due to open in September (2017).
HS2 Ltd has opened its construction headquarters in Birmingham city centre, eventually employing up to 1,300 people, while businesses such as HSBC, Jacobs Engineering and Carter Jonas have citied HS2 as a major factor behind their city centre relocations.
Meanwhile, global construction and support services firm Interserve is building its new regional HQ at UK Central in Solihull to take advantage of the planned Interchange Station, the first HS2 stop on the route out of London.
The region’s three Growth Hubs* are also providing SMEs with targeted support to help them win millions of pounds of contract opportunities created by Britain’s biggest infrastructure project in decades.
Councillor Bob Sleigh, Chair of the WMCA, said: “Royal Assent is important because it makes HS2 an absolute reality and that means the West Midlands can now fully deliver its HS2 ambitions.
“Those ambitions have a clear focus on jobs, apprenticeships, major investment at the two station sites in Solihull and Birmingham and millions of pounds of contract opportunities for West Midlands SMEs.
“The arrival of HS2 and the associated improvements to our local transport infrastructure mean we’ll be one of the best-connected parts of the UK.
“All of this means the West Midlands has never been better positioned to make such an outstanding contribution to UK plc right now, and for years to come too.
“My message to the people of the West Midlands who are wondering what HS2 will give them, is that this is so much more than a fast train. The arrival of HS2 will allow us to create a legacy and will help secure your future, your children’s future and probably your grandchildren’s future too.”
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*Growth Hubs are local public/private sector partnerships led by the Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs). They join up national and local business support so it is easy for businesses to find the help they need.