Birmingham lines up post-Brexit housing plan, with a little help from its friends in China

  • Birmingham population grew 9.5% in past decade (Census data)
  • Country Garden to invest £2 billion in Birmingham projects
  • UK is most popular destination in Europe for FDI (Department for International Trade)
  • HS2 and Birmingham Smithfield redevelopment are key opportunities (Property Frontiers)
By Sophie Evans
As the youngest city in Europe, with 50% of its population under the age of 30, Birmingham is a city full of drive, ambition and entrepreneurialism. This is already clear from the city’s booming life science, creative and tech industries. Now, Birmingham is lining up to show the rest of Britain’s cities how to future-proof against the coming economic uncertainty when the UK finally begins the formal process of leaving the EU.
 
Birmingham’s attractions as a place to live and work mean that its population is booming. According to Census data, the city’s population grew by nearly 100,000 in the decade to 2015, equating to a 9.5% increase. With people continuing to be drawn to the city, planners believe that 80,000 new housing units will be required by 2030.
Birmingham City Council leader John Clancy has taken matters in hand and has just spent a week courting investors in China and Hong Kong.
The trade mission has yielded impressive results, with Chinese property developer Country Garden pledging to invest £2 billion in Birmingham’s economy over the coming years. Housing stock and projects related to the HS2 railway have been identified as top priorities.
Councillor Clancy sees Chinese interest in Birmingham as a key means by which the city will secure its economy (so far as possible) to weather the Brexit storm. He comments,
 
“There may be a downturn next year, or the year after, there might even be a recession and I want to ensure, like London did last time, that we come out of the recession ahead of the rest.
 
“For that, we need to have the capital ready to come in and projects ready to go.”
 
Britain’s uncoupling from the EU may be a painful process for the country’s economy, but investment from overseas can help to soften the blow. Pre-Brexit vote figures from the Department for International Trade have shown that the UK is the most popular destination in Europe for foreign direct investment, with the 2015/16 financial year seeing 2,213 inward investment projects secured, an 11% rise on 2014/15. It is Birmingham’s hope that the continuation of such investment will ease the Brexit process.
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