As part of our Property Influencer series, we offer exclusive video interviews with the men and women who are shaping property development around the world.
One of our favourite interviews was with Birmingham City Council leader Mike Whitby, who described how the “Big City” plan, launched in September 2010, will see Birmingham flourish. We caught up with him, a few months after the recording of his Property Influencer video.
The Big City is one of the most ambitious and far-reaching citywide development project ever undertaken in the UK. Its goal is to create a world-class city centre by planning for the next 20 years of transformation, and Whitby has been the driving force behind creating what he has called a “global city with a local heart.” So far, his efforts have paid off.
“Since the Big City Plan was launched, significant progress has been made in delivering transformational change to create a world class city centre. Progress on key public sector projects totalling over £1 billion has been considerable, including the £600 million redevelopment New Street Station, topping out of the £188 million Library of Birmingham, commencement of the £12 million City Park Eastside, and securing of funding for a £129 million Metro extension,” said Whitby.
According to him, to be successful, city leaders need to create a well thought-out framework emphasising private-public partnerships and solid investment strategies.
“The framework created by the Big City Plan has also been instrumental in securing major private sector investment totalling over £500 million, including the £100 million new John Lewis Department Store, and in enabling the City Council and its partners to respond to opportunities presented by the Government’s Enterprise Zone initiative, which will enable accelerated growth through a range of benefits, including business rates relief and investment in infrastructure,” he said.
But it’s not all about private investment, said Whitby. Public space and room for pedestrians in all areas of the city is crucial.
“We are also focusing on fine grain regeneration, and the delivery of our ambitions to create distinctive areas within the city centre moves forward with investment in public squares and improved pedestrian environments. This shows the commitment to delivering key objectives in the Big City Plan that will complement the investment through major new infrastructure and developments,” he said.[youtube]3E4C5Hez7ps[/youtube]