Birmingham New Street Development Untouched as AWM Faces Cuts
Advantage West Midlands has been told by the coalition government that it must save over ┬ú37 million in the current financial year.
The cuts mean that the regional development agency has been forced to slash spending for 121 various building, office space and development schemes, affecting many different projects.
While around ┬ú2.5 million has been saved by businesses who have chosen not to take-up business grant offers, a further ┬ú34.6 million has been saved by dropping funding for existing and legally contracted projects.
The Black Country sub-region of Advantage West Midlands’ remit has been hit hardest, with 11 projects affected amounting to a total of ┬ú9 million cuts.
Other schemes that have been affected include Edgbaston Cricket Ground’s redevelopment, the regeneration of West Bromwich town centre, and a number of new science developments in and around Coventry.
The All Saints development, which was set to include office space in West Bromwich, has had its budget cut by ┬ú7.4 million.
However the Birmingham New Street regeneration has escaped severe funding cuts by AWM, and the agency will invest ┬ú24.4 million in the project this year.
Plans for the regeneration of the busy train station (as part of Birmingham’s wider “Big City Plan” regeneration scheme) have been designed by architect Alejandro Zaera-Polo, and includes a complete overhaul of the existing structure, resulting in a modern new-look building with a light-filled interior, a new atrium, digital displays, a bigger concourse, and eight entrances – with the ability to double passenger numbers.
The project has attracted a total of over ┬ú600 million worth of investment from development bodies – of which Advantage West Midlands pledged ┬ú100 million – along with funding from Birmingham City Council, Network Rail, and Centro.
Commenting on the scale of the cuts, Mick Laverty, chief executive at Advantage West Midlands, said in a press release: “The collective efforts of our Agency staff and our partners have delivered all the savings that the Government asked of us.
“The scale and pace of the cuts required meant that inevitably some difficult and unpopular decisions had to be made. Our joint focus has always been to safeguard priority projects – the ones that create most jobs and the greatest growth and support the most competitive businesses across the West Midlands.”
The government plan to abolish regional development agencies by the close of March 2012, but commented that in the meantime, AWM are doing their “utmost” to enable a smooth transition to the new arrangements.
“Our main task remains to support economic recovery and future growth through the effective delivery of our remaining projects,” he added.