Business News

This month’s special focus is on the town of Solihull, which is hoping to become on the best connected locations in the whole country. Next month’s focus is on Asian Business Chamber of Commerce

How Solihull is gaining momentum

Solihull is attracting significant levels of investment, as well as maintaining buoyancy among retailers. And with ambitious plans to make it the best connected town in the UK by rail, even greater prosperity could be around the corner. Chamberlink’s Jessica Brookes finds out more.

Touchwood: new lettings

Town centre is continuing to thrive

All change: An artist’s impression of how Interchange Station will look once complete

Solihull, a town housed just a few miles away from the sprawling metropolis of Birmingham, is undergoing major changes to its landscape. Works are now fully underway on HS2’s

Interchange Station, located next to Birmingham Airport, rail station International Station and exhibition centre the NEC. The station is part of the first phase of the high-speed rail line, linking London to Solihull and onwards to Birmingham. Interchange Station is anticipated as being the

best-connected place in the UK by rail, road and air, with links to 150 international destinations with its ease of access to Birmingham Airport via the station’s in-built automated people mover. The mover will transport passengers from the station to the airport.

‘HS2 will certainly help to boost the connectivity of Solihull’

According to HS2, major regeneration plans

surrounding the high-speed station, being nicknamed The Hub, will support 70,000 new and existing jobs, up to 5,000 new homes and 650,000m2 of commercial space. One of those developers already making big changes to the landscape before the high-speed trains arrive is IM Properties. IM Properties is one of the largest investors in

Solihull, with its development portfolio including Mell Square in the town centre and Blythe Valley Business Park. Since IM Properties acquired the land in 2013, a flurry of international businesses, including

Siemens, Gymshark and GKN Aerospace, have set up offices at the park. To date, £51m has been invested into the

business park, located just off the M42. Plans are also in the works for IM to establish

750 new homes on the site. Work has also started on a site for global medical technology firm Arthrex, who will be taking 17,100 sq ft of office space to house 130 members of staff. Rob Hemus, asset director for IM Properties,

said: “HS2 will certainly help to boost the connectivity of Solihull, however the town is already in a strong position on the M42 Corridor. “Our Blythe Valley Park scheme has already

attracted some of the region’s most innovative occupiers, not only because of our continued investment in it, but its close proximity to the existing airport, international train station and motorway network. “Ensuring the town centre continues to evolve

in line with changing shopping habits will be essential for it to attract inward migration from London and other major cities and become a key commuter location.”

HQ: International sportswear brand Gymshark is one of the big firms that has offices on Blythe Valley Park

Prior to the coronavirus crisis, Solihull town centre was bucking the national high- street trend. According to a PwC report on shop openings and closures during the first half of 2019, Solihull’s high-street maintained its store numbers with no net losses of shops. During the same time period, store openings across the West Midlands fell to a five-year low. The coronavirus situation might change

that, but at the moment it is too early to tell. For now, Sweets 4U and Japanese restaurant chain Yakinori are some of the latest retailers to open in Solihull’s Touchwood shopping complex, which houses 80 shops, plus 24 shops, bars, restaurants and a multiplex cinema. Tony Elvin, general manager at

Touchwood, believes “Dubai levels of investment” will provide even more prosperity for Solihull. He said: “Solihull has done incredibly well

to remain so buoyant during such difficult times within the retail sector. We have seen a number of new businesses, brands and retailers investing in the town and the borough, thanks to its accessible central location and strong local economy. “The Dubai levels of investment coming

into the borough as a result of HS2 are hugely welcome, providing more homes, more shoppers, better infrastructure and greater connectivity across the region and beyond. By working together and maximising this opportunity we can ensure that the borough continues to thrive for many years to come.”

April 2020 CHAMBERLINK 13

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