Why Solihull is one of Europe's hottest investment opportunities

UK Central Urban Growth Company

This blog post has been produced for the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce to provide insight on the findings of our new publication Doing Business in Solihull: An Economic Snapshot.

Doing Business in Solihull: An Economic Snapshot is produced by the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce policy team. It offers an introduction to the local economy and business community within Solihull. The report is sponsored by Prime Accountants Group, one of the West Midland’s leading independent firms of chartered accountants, forensic accountants, business and financial advisors.

This post is featured in the full report here.

What we’re doing at The Hub has been described as a mega-project.  It’s incredibly ambitious and it’s going to put Solihull on the international map because it’s going to become one of the most attractive investment opportunities in Europe.

Let’s start at the beginning.  The Hub is a 1,300 hectare site on the outskirts of Solihull near the M42 motorway, comprising Birmingham Airport, Birmingham International Station, the NEC, Birmingham Business Park and Jaguar Land Rover.  It also comprises the Arden Cross development site which will be home to the new HS2 Interchange Station from 2026.  It’s where the nation’s transport network comes together.

And the Urban Growth Company was set up by Solihull Council to align the growth plans of all the stakeholders involved and coordinate £1.6bn of infrastructure investment across The Hub. 

Delivering the right infrastructure at the right time is absolutely critical if we’re serious about creating Europe’s best-connected destination for business, leisure and living. 

When we talk about infrastructure here, it’s in the widest possible sense. 

In terms of rail, we’re completely redeveloping the existing Birmingham International Station to become a transport exchange.  It will be truly multi-modal by bringing together high speed and classic rail, air, trams, buses, an automated people mover, private vehicles, taxis, bicycles and pedestrians through seamless connections to Birmingham Airport, the NEC and the new HS2 Interchange Station. 

And regarding the HS2 Interchange Station, we’re working closely with HS2 to make sure two things are in place.  Firstly, that the whole station site is well connected to the wider public transport network and secondly, that the station becomes the centre piece of a whole new, mixed-use development on the wider site known as Arden Cross. 

That partnership approach to infrastructure investment extends to the work we’re doing with Transport for West Midlands and the Midland Metro Alliance to bring new Sprint and Metro routes to The Hub. 

And likewise, we’re working closely with Highways England to make sure the local motorway network is able to support the anticipated growth we’re expecting at The Hub. 

Adding capacity to Junction 6 of the M42, and building an additional new junction 5a to the south with a new relief-style road to predominantly serve Birmingham Airport, will mean we are much better positioned to manage the additional traffic generated by the arrival of HS2 at Arden Cross from 2026.

For us, infrastructure is about more than transport connectivity.  For example, we’re working on a co-funded project with Jaguar Land Rover and the local LEP, supported by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, to address the predicted shortfall in power supply at The Hub.  This work is critically important in securing future investment at the Jaguar Land Rover plant, where preparatory work for a new logistics operations centre creating 2,450 jobs is underway.   

We’re working with public and private sector partners to future-proof as much of The Hub as we can and remove the constraints to growth before they have a chance to become barriers.  This strategic approach gives investors the confidence to choose The Hub, whilst also supporting businesses already located here.

I’ve recently returned from MIPIM, the international property conference, where lots of people were keen to hear about the investment opportunities at The Hub.  And make no mistake, the investment in infrastructure makes this site very, very attractive.  

When you take into account Solihull’s other benefits, such as its talent pool of highly skilled employees, quality of living and location at the heart of the UK, it’s easy to see why we’re tipped to become one of the hottest investment opportunities in Europe.  That’s good news for Solihull, the West Midlands and the wider-UK.  What’s not to be excited about? 

Jonathan Bretherton
Managing Director
UK Central Urban Growth Company