Qatari cash linked to HS2 scheme

Hidden Spaces exhibition at Curzon Street Station

The redevelopment of Curzon Street Station is one of the key projects for HS2

Oil-rich Qatar has Birmingham in its sights – with the fabulously wealthy Gulf State targeting the city’s controversial HS2 rail scheme.

The Royal Family of Qatar is said to be planning a massive investment in Birmingham’sCurzon Street HS2 station as part of a multi-billion pound UK regeneration programme.

The Emir of Qatar visited the UK last month and reportedly told the Prime Minister the Gulf state was particularly interested in investing in the regeneration planned in central Birmingham.

Curzon Street would become one of the largest new stations in Britain for over a century and includes a plan to build 2,000 homes and 6.4m sq ft of office space in the area.

The Emir is said to have told Mr Cameron of his desire to invest in UK projects related to the £50 billion high-speed rail scheme, with Birmingham firmly on Qatar’s radar.

The potential for Middle East wealth to flow into the West Midlands was welcomed by business leaders as the clock ticks down to the proposed launch of building of the first phase of HS2 in 2017.

Jerry Blackett, chief executive of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, said: “We should celebrate that any major development in Birmingham attracts global interest so it is no surprise that Curzon Street is attracting widespread attention.

“It was always the case that HS2 would need to be backed by private investment.”

Qatar opened talks with the Treasury last year to invest up to £10 billion in key infrastructure projects such as energy plants, transport schemes or the Thames “super-sewer” under London.

The Qataris are also trying to take over Songbird Estates, the group that owns London’s Canary Wharf, to add to other holdings in London, including Harrods and Chelsea Barracks.

Mr Blackett added: “The prospects of Qatari investment is compelling and on the face of it something which will doubtlessly be pursued with vigour along with any other expressions of interest.”

Support for HS2 has grown among the business community in Birmingham, with over 80 per cent saying the project would have a “significant or slight positive” impact on the region, according to a Chamber survey.

The Birmingham Curzon HS2 Masterplan will be one of the biggest urban regeneration schemes in Britain, transforming about 350 acres of the city centre.

The proposals form the biggest redevelopment related to the high-speed rail link project as part of a 25-year vision to realise the potential of neglected areas of Digbeth andEastside.

The plan includes extending the Midland Metro, which will pass through Curzon Street HS2 Station, and a park on top of the 1,100-yard-long Duddeston Viaduct.

 

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Birmingham City Council leader Sir Albert Bore has pledged that the regeneration would boost the city’s economy by £1.3 billion each year with more than 14,000 jobs, 148 acres of new employment floorspace and 2,000 new homes.

 

The developments will be focused around the new city centre station, Birmingham Curzon, and Sir Albert has said he wants to see major progress well in advance of the station being completed in 2026.

He told the Post earlier this year: “We are not hanging around for the station to start operating in 2026, we are looking to activate the economic growth which HS2 can give rise to.”

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It is forecast that there will be 1,760 passengers boarding, alighting and changing at Curzon Street station in the morning peak hour and approximately 1,870 in the evening peak hour when it is completed in 2026.

Read More: http://www.birminghampost.co.uk/business/business-news/qatari-cash-linked-hs2-scheme-8131037

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