HS2: The Growth Task Force I am a supporter of HS2. The world we live in continues to evolve, there are new challenges and demands placed on people’s time and business activities. Therefore, effectively connecting the UK together for the twenty-first century is what should be happening. In my 24 years in Birmingham, this could be the most significant thing I have seen happen to our city. So, it is obvious we need to do something to absolutely and resolutely respond to this exciting opportunity. Here are my thoughts – about the city, Eastside and Millennium Point. The city. This time we have to be collegiate in our response to the opportunity. Having a plan, making it plausible and deliverable is essential. We can argue about some of the detail, but I do believe that the Birmingham Curzon HS2 Masterplan for growth is the principal tool for doing that. It gathers the ideas of space, place, architecture, people and movement into a vision. We need the resolve, skills, cash, pace and tenacity to deliver much of this ahead of 2026. What we put in place now will likely be there for another 60 years, so let’s do it well. Birmingham has a mish-mash transport infrastructure that is, it’s fair to say, not the best. We will be soon be welcoming people to Birmingham as they disembark, having only taken time to drink a long coffee from London. They need to be able pause, to walk, see the way, experience the city and catch a cab, a tram, a bus or grab a bike with ease and comfort. If we’re really ambitious there is no reason that it can’t be a pleasant experience. Perhaps for once, we will not let transport engineers rule the public realm and allow cars to speed crazily through our streets. This time around, let’s go for integration. Eastside. We speak with pride about what has been not only built, but richly occupied by a massive new influx of people; notably throughout the recession. We have a new hotel, two new academies, a park that has collected more awards than I can keep up with, a car park that has scooped up all the cars that littered the open spaces and a huge new city council office. There’s also the most significant university investment the city has seen in a generation with Birmingham City University in its two major phases of work and Aston creating a better environment. To sum it up, Eastside is by far the most progressive quarter of the city centre. But we all know the best cities are those that are enthrallingly dense and intense. There is space here in Eastside for much more to happen, including more real growth and investment. Fuse us with Digbeth and you have the most entrepreneurial, learning and creative group of institutions, people and business of all scales grouped here. It is an astonishingly youthful place: pinstripes are a pleasantly rare sight. Eastside is the inventive quarter. The skills that Birmingham requires for the future are being taught here now. Channelling these for growth and aspiration, helping young people to build businesses and build places is what needs to happen. Eastside wants to see a clever, grand and unique piece of architecture take shape at Curzon Station. Birmingham needs to put an aspirational imprint upon the HS2 engineers and project managers to allow great architecture to thrive. Millennium Point. We are a teenager now, in our 13th year. Moving into our second decade has already seen us muscle up and there is more to come. We are founded on “technological processes which will shape the future world”, an independent Trust run by ambition. Call us, if you like, Tomorrow’s World for the Greater Birmingham city region (whilst we’re getting HS2. can we have one of those too please?). Our new brand says “Be Amazed”. We are now hosting more than we ever have. This year will see a world premier, jobs fairs, Birmingham Made Me (yes, again in 2014 and one of the best collective of things made at the heart of Englishness), food festivals, the best coffee in Birmingham and very soon a place where social innovation will thrive. Yes, jobs fairs and social innovation – we hold close to our purpose being economically relevant to Birmingham, helping Birmingham develop and grow its own people and their skills. We will be announcing much more on this very soon. We have growth plans, spawning new things. Curzon Station will be on our doorstep, I can confidently say that the prospect of its arrival has made us even more ambitious and keen, well ahead of it arriving, to create a more worthwhile, useful part of the Birmingham economy and visitor fabric of our city. We are looking forward to welcoming our new neighbour and, together embracing our potential.