Business News Stepping up

2,750-tonne HS2 bridge is inched into place over M42

A 65-metre bridge spanning the width of the M42 has been moved into place as part of HS2 building works. Work to install the 2,750-tonne bridge structure was

led by specialist engineering contractor, Expanded and HS2 enabling works contractor, LMJV (Laing O’Rourke and J. Murphy & Sons Joint Venture). The 448-wheel transporter took just one hour and 45

minutes to move the bridge span 150 metres, where it was affixed to a composite concrete deck to complete the overall bridge structure. Traditional construction methods would have

required several weeks of lane closures on both carriageways, followed by additional weekend and overnight closures.

‘This is the first visible sign of what will be a transformation project for the West Midlands and the country as a whole’

The motorway was closed on a Saturday afternoon

and re-opened ahead of schedule for the following day. HS2 CEO Mark Thurston, was joined by West Midlands mayor Andy Street and Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce chief executive Paul Faulkner to observe the bridge being moved into place. Mr Thurston said: “This new road bridge is the first permanent structure to be installed along the route of Britain’s new railway. This represents an important milestone for the project and the West Midlands region - which is already benefiting from thousands of jobs

and renewed investment as a result of HS2. “Constructing the bridge off site and using

innovative engineering practices to install it over the motorway enabled us to carry out the work in just two days, keeping disruption to a minimum for road users.” The successful installation marks the completion of

the first of four bridges to be built close to the new Interchange Station in Solihull. It will form part of the major remodelling of the

regional road network to improve the circulation of traffic around the HS2 railway line and connect the existing road network to the new Interchange Station. Andy Street said: “Seeing major construction

activity like this in Solihull is hugely encouraging as it shows HS2 is now truly underway. In just a few years, the HS2 station at Interchange and further investments in public transport will help make Solihull one of the best connected places in the UK. This work also comes at a critical time for the West Midlands, as we look to bounce back economically from the coronavirus crisis. Major infrastructure projects like HS2 have a critical role to play as they help stimulate demand and create and secure local jobs for local people.” Paul Faulkner said: “The new bridge over the M42 is

not only an incredibly impressive engineering feat but also the first tangible sign of the HS2 project taking shape. This is the first visible sign of what will be a transformation project for the West Midlands and the country as a whole. Of course, many more will follow but it is great for Solihull that it can lay claim to having the first major piece of HS2 infrastructure.”

... as companies snap up space

Companies looking for space along the M42 corridor are already starting to factor the impact of HS2 into their calculations, according to a Birmingham property agent. KWB's head of office agency,

Malcolm Jones (pictured), says inquiries about the availability of buildings which could be used as corporate headquarters are now including questions about HS2, and the giant Interchange station complex near the NEC. “I was slightly surprised on the

first occasion, as you'd expect potential occupiers and their agents to focus more on the basics, such as the rent, the quality of the refurb, the fit-out, and the number of parking spaces,” he admits.

Malcolm believes the catalyst for

the recent upsurge in interest was two-fold: the granting of planning permission by Solihull Borough Council for Interchange, and the launch of public consultation for the £3bn mixed-use scheme, Arden Cross, which will be 'wrapped around' the HS2 station. The development partnership

“However, it makes sense. If

you're looking to sign a lease for (say) the next 10 years, you should be thinking about major changes to nearby infrastructure. We saw a similar effect in the city centre when the Midland Metro began expanding.”

behind the proposals envisage the creation of 27,000 jobs and the delivery of six million sq ft of employment space. Malcolm added: “There is already significant pent-up demand for HQ- style office space right along the M42 corridor, and as both Interchange and Arden Cross progress, I'm absolutely sure that will increase.”

Brexit support Regional Chambers of Commerce and West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) are stepping up their free support to help businesses prepare for the end of the Brexit transition period. The WMCA, Greater

Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, Coventry & Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce and the Black Country Chamber of Commerce are working together to scale up existing support. The programme, available until February 2021, gives local businesses access to: • Fully-funded places on a choice of 24 accredited and non-accredited high quality international trade-focused training courses (worth c.£200+VAT per delegate per course)

• 15 free webinars featuring guest experts on all aspects of preparing for 2021

• One-to-one support with customs and export documentation-related queries

• Digital resources, including business briefings, checklists and videos on key topics

Paul Faulkner, chief

executive at the GBCC, said: “We are looking forward to working together with our fellow chambers and the WMCA to make it as straightforward as possible for businesses to get to grips with and adapt to key changes to come.”

Harvey UK wins

hospital contract Leading commercial decoration company Harvey UK has won the contract to carry out the decorating and finishing of one of the largest acute hospitals in the Midlands. The work, at the new Midland Metropolitan University Hospital, will be Harvey's biggest ever contract. Henley-in-Arden headquartered

Harvey UK will decorate and finish more than 4,000 rooms at the £350m hospital, using specialist hygienic coatings and finishes. Harvey UK managing director

Tony Harvey said: “This hospital is vital for the region and is set to be a leader in medical treatment and diagnostics. Our work involves specialist flooring and finishes and will draw on our experience in other large hospitals.”

October 2020 CHAMBERLINK 19

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