What’s so special about Birmingham?
For anyone who knows the UK’s second-largest city, it’s hard to know where to start.
Birmingham is proud of its central location, industrial heritage and vibrant diversity. It boasts 571 parks, 1000 types of dim sum under one roof, and is home to Cadbury’s chocolate. Whether you come here to shop at Selfridges, view the Staffordshire Hoard or study at one of the Top 100 universities in the world, you’re guaranteed a warm welcome: Brummies are among the friendliest people you’ll find in the UK.
Not enough? Stick around. Birmingham is pretty special already – but it’s about to become extraordinary.
Here’s what in store for Birmingham in 2022 and beyond.
A sporting legacy
Birmingham’s successful campaign to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games cements the city’s reputation as a sporting hub.
As well as the redevelopment of the Alexander stadium, a new Games Village in Perry Barr will provide post-Games housing for thousands of families.
Meanwhile, Smethwick’s new aquatics centre will give the city its first Olympic-scale 50m pool.
Curzon Street station might have been derelict since 2006, but work is now underway to bring HS2 to Birmingham. This high-speed rail link will cut travel time from London to Birmingham to only 49 minutes by 2026.
Curzon Street’s seven platforms will also link to a new extended metro (tram) network, and the £450m development of the Eastside area of the city into a new civic, retail and accommodation hub.
Meanwhile the new Interchange station, near Solihull, will serve the West Midlands, NEC and Birmingham International Airport.
The planned Paradise development has had a bumpy start. But if the stunning visuals for the scheme are anything to go by, it will all be worth it.
This £700m investment is set to bring new commercial, retail and leisure space across four squares , with the construction of three new spaces and the redevelopment of Chamberlain Square.
A walkway will provide new views, and provide a showcase for some of the city’s finest architecture: the Town Hall, Chamberlain Memorial and the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. The first areas will open this year.
Later, a new 22-storey city centre hotel will be joined by more retail, civic and commercial spaces. The final phase begins in 2023, with an expected completion date of 2026.
The University of Birmingham is making its mark on Paradise, too. The former Municipal Bank at 3 Centenary Square will become a new hub for University research, culture and education, open to the public.
Channel 4’s decision last year to make Leeds their new Midlands base was a blow to Brum, without doubt.
However, one of the city’s brightest film-making talents has responded with a suitably cinematic approach: if we build it, they will come.
Tackling the perceived lack of film infrastructure in the city is Steven Knight: screenwriter, director, and the creator of Peaky Blinders.
Mercian Studios will occupy a 20-acre site near to Birmingham International and the NEC, with six studios and its own post-production facilities.
Although the project is yet to be fully funded, the plans are accompanied by a flood of investment in the same area, with a proposed £500m redevelopment of the airport and new housing developments.
Although the city centre’s evolution is admirable, there’s more to see just a few miles away here in Edgbaston.
The University of Birmingham’s commitment to sustainability comes with a promise to provide a welcoming community to students, researchers and city residents alike.
It’s easy to see this ethos in action in the new Green Heart, now open in the centre of the University’s Edgbaston campus.
This project bucks the trend to build, build, build. Instead, buildings and car parking have given way to a lush, rolling green area that provides a genuine sense of space and peace in the midst of a busy campus village.
The Green Heart is replete with environmentally-friendly features: new self-draining planted areas, a PaveGen path that produces electricty to power outdoor desk sockets, and habitats to promote wildlife. It’s also brought a greater level of accessibility to the central campus.
This new events space will be home to a new summer festival, and enquiries are welcome.
It’s not the only new development that will please anyone organising conferences in the Midlands, however. The new Teaching and Learning Building will provide a state of the art 500-seat lecture theatre, a 250-seat interactive lecture theatre, 10 seminar rooms and breakout spaces.
It opens in 2020.