Last year I wrote a couple of articles on the growth of Birmingham and positive developments across the second city. As we enter the second half of 2017 I thought now would be a good time to see how the city is fairing.
The relocation of HSBC’s commercial and retail arm from London to Birmingham is very much on track with the new office opening in January. The office will be based in a £200 million, 10-storey, 210,000 square foot building right in the heart of the city, Centenary Square. The move by HSBC will hopefully trigger further relocation of British banks to the city as we offer much lower office space costs compared to the capital. The government’s new ring-fencing rules for financial institutions, which come into effect in 2019, may also help relocation as banks are forced to split parts of their businesses.
The redevelopment of Birmingham City Centre continues apace with the new Three Snowhill development set to be the biggest commercial building outside London when completed in 2019. Tenants already include Barclays, KPMG and the construction headquarters of HS2.
Birmingham’s bid for the 2022 Commonwealth Games is in full swing with a final decision made before the end of this year. With the Genting Area, Barclaycard Arena, NEC and Symphony Hall already established for international events we definitely have a great shot of success. Birmingham is now bidding for 2022 rather than 2026 after it was decided Durban did not meet the criteria, we will not make the same mistakes. “We have taken a rigorous process to identify the venues which meet the Games requirements… 95% of Birmingham venues are already available” stated Birmingham City Council Deputy Leader, Ian Ward.
In terms of hospitality, an article in The Guardian in February reported that 2016 was the city’s most successful for hotel occupancy rates. Emma Gray of Marketing Birmingham commented that “Birmingham’s industrial past meant that people’s perceptions of Birmingham were based on the city as it was in the 70’s… Now we’ve got high end and high street shopping, a vibrant food scene as well as cultural diversity”.
Research from Marketing Birmingham’s Regional Observatory has shown the proportional of international visitors to the city has doubled from 6% to 12% in 3 years. Developers are planning to build 800 new homes near the canal. 2017 has also seen The University of Birmingham open a new world class £55m sports centre.
In relation to hospitality, culture, education, sport, business and retail Birmingham has positioned itself in a very strong position to continue to grow over the next years. I’m looking forward to what the future will bring.
Greg Jones, Venn Group