Birmingham & Black Country

Birmingham named as new HS2 headquarters

Artist's impression of new station in Birmingham for the HS2 line
Image caption Curzon Street will become the Birmingham hub for the first phase of the HS2 high speed line

The headquarters for construction of the High Speed 2 (HS2) rail line is to be based in Birmingham.

HS2 Ltd, the company responsible for the project, said its new premises would house up to 1,500 staff.

It is expected to include engineers and designers responsible for track, signalling and station plans, as well as support staff.

While some jobs would move from London, the company said, many would be new roles.

Chairman David Higgins said he expected the first staff to move into the new premises in April or May 2015.

He said the fact HS2 had chosen to base its construction HQ in Birmingham rather than London showed the firm's "long-term commitment" to the city.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said it would bring skilled job opportunities to the area.

Image caption Opened in 1838, little remains of the original building at Curzon Street Station beyond its facade
Image caption The completed Curzon Street station will be the largest building in Birmingham, the council has said
Image caption A 141-hectare area around Curzon Street is set to be redeveloped in the run-up to HS2's launch

Birmingham City Council announced it would create a company to lead the redevelopment around Curzon Street station, which will become the Birmingham hub for the first phase of HS2.

In February, the council first announced plans to regenerate the area by building offices, a hotel and about 2,000 homes to both improve the city's "welcome" to HS2 travellers and stimulate the local economy.

Under the plans, the Grade I-listed facade of the currently derelict station would form the centrepiece of the new development, extending into nearby Digbeth and the surrounding area.

When it is completed, the new station will be the biggest building in Birmingham, according to the city council.

Council leader Sir Albert Bore, said: "Since the industrial revolution, Birmingham has been a national capital for engineering, so it is only natural that the HS2 construction HQ be based in Birmingham."

Mr Mcloughlin said he hoped Curzon Street would repeat the "success" of London's King's Cross and St Pancras stations.

"If you think what those areas were like 20 years ago and what they're like today, I want to see that emulated in Birmingham," he said.

Image caption Sir Albert Bore met with business leaders and transport minister Patrick Mcloughlin to discuss the project

The Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) said it would be investing £30m to support plans for the 141 hectare site.

LEP chairman Andy Street, who is also the head of John Lewis, said the announcement was a sign the project was moving "away from the 'if and when'" and towards action.

"I'm absolutely convinced businesses across the West Midlands share the view this is good for the region," he said.

"It's not just about a station for Birmingham."

Earlier this month, the LEP was awarded more than £350m over three years through the government's Growth Deal.

Much of the investment was for HS2 related projects, such as extending the Metro tram line to Curzon Street.

Funding was also earmarked for a new construction training centre in Dudley, as well as facilities at Birmingham's South and City College, to help equip local people for jobs connected with the building of HS2.

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