Each month, the Eastside Forum – made up of key individuals and organisations – gathers to discuss the latest developments in Eastside. Chair of the group and Millennium Point’s CEO, Judith Armstrong, gives us an update on everything happening in this thriving area over the coming years.

Birmingham Big Art Project

At Millennium Point, we’re lucky enough to be hosting the Birmingham Big Art Project exhibition where visitors can view the five artists’ proposals.

On display on our Level 2 Pop-Up space until 31st August, visitors to the exhibition are being encouraged to share their opinions on all five proposals.

A winning proposal will be chosen in January 2017 and will be created as a £2 million permanent public artwork situated around the existing Millennium Point building and Birmingham’s High-Speed Railway Station (HS2) once completed.


At the meeting, we received an update from Jonathan Lord, the West Midlands senior engagement manager for HS2, who also sits on the Eastside Forum, and Juan Fernandez-Aller Horrillo, one of the project’s senior engineers.

The £50 billion high-speed rail link will include a new station at Curzon Street linking Central Birmingham with London and the north of the country and will boast seven platforms, each 450 metres long. The station’s design will also feature mezzanines so that visitors can view the platforms from above.

We found out that the east concourse will face New Canal Street and will incorporate a stop for the proposed metro extension from the city centre to Digbeth.

During the meeting, we discussed the design element of the station and how it will impact businesses in Eastside. Jonathan reassured us that there will be further engagement with local businesses regarding the design of the station through upcoming forums and other engagement channels.

The contract will be awarded in the spring of 2017, with detailed designing set to take place in 2017/2018, and the final design confirmed at the end of 2018.

Proposals for road closures around the station are being finalised and will be presented at future forums as part of the ongoing engagement process.

Jonathan will be talking in more detail about the detailed design process for the station at our next meeting so do check back here to find out more.

National College for High-Speed Rail

Construction is well underway for the new National College for High-Speed Rail headquarters on Birmingham Science Park Aston and is set to be completed in August 2017.

As we know, the £22m facility will contain a large workshop, classrooms and a digital communications suite. Open to the public will be a restaurant and social space next to the canal.  

In our meeting, we found out that the college will specialise in digital signalling, the digital railway and advanced construction. This is in addition to Railway Operations and Systems Integration.

Covering 61,350 sq ft, the college’s ‘real work’ environment will attract people from around the world. It will be open to a wide range of individuals aged 19 and above including new entrants, existing workforce and students studying for a higher apprentice in High-Speed Rail or a HNC equivalent.

In light of news that the UK will need more than one million new engineers and technicians in the next four years, it is great to see Birmingham at the forefront of this and supporting the next generation of rail workforce.

The college will provide eight specialist pathways for individuals to take and will equip thousands of students with the higher technical skills required to design, build, operate and maintain a railway, including a strong emphasis on practical and virtual learning. Innovation and technology will be at the heart of all skills development.

It will take five years for the college to reach full capacity of 1,200 students, which I have no doubt will bring much-needed skills and economic growth to our city.

Christopher Wray complex

During our meeting, we also received an update regarding The Christopher Wray complex which is being transformed into a mixed-use development called The Emporium. The development, which is set to be completed in January 2018, will feature a 15 storey student apartment block, two bars or restaurants and design studios.

The programme duration is 60 weeks commencing with the demolition. This will be followed by the crane installation, during which time, there may be some lane closures.

Final plans for the building are due to be circulated to the Eastside Forum members so watch this space for further updates.
West Midlands Combined Authority

The Transport and Works Act Order submission for the 1.7km Midland Metro Birmingham Eastside Extension route into Digbeth is planned for September this year, with WMCA currently designing the junction with Digbeth High Street, with a view to expanding to the south of the city in the longer term.

This tram route will undoubtedly transform Eastside into a key arrival destination, unlocking development opportunities and linking the area into the city’s core.

During our forum, we found out that funding from the Enterprise Zone Investment Plan and GBSLEP Local Transport Board has been secured for the Metro extension to commence to the west of the city centre, seeing the tram lines extended through Centenary Square up to Five Ways.

Also, in a historic first for the West Midlands within the UK, the trams will be powered by battery, which will result in reduced visual impact on sections without overhead wires, such as near the proposed HS2 station.

Eastside Park

Our local police team are working hard to ensure Eastside remains safe and clean for our visitors. Birmingham City University is working to ensure that there is sufficient lighting throughout the park to create a pleasant and walkable route connecting the different elements of Eastside to the centre of Birmingham.

Phase one for Eastside Park will come into force this November so I look forward to being able to tell you more nearer the time.
Promoting Eastside

In our last meeting, we talked about how we can promote the Eastside area more and highlight the exciting developments taking place within the area.

The website is currently being developed by the marketing and communications team at Millennium Point so keep checking the website for new updates soon.

Once again, it’s fantastic to see all of these developments in Eastside coming together and for Millennium Point to be at the heart of it all.
Millennium Point is also proud to be selected as one of the venues to display the BookBenches as part of The Big Read, which are on display in The Atrium from this Saturday 16th July until September.

Make sure you take a look at our What’s On section to find out about everything taking place here over the coming months!