Alex Bishop: Birmingham buzzing with the Big City Plan
Mar 11 2008 By Alex Bishop
This is an exciting time to live and work in Birmingham.
We finally have the finance in place for the New Street Gateway Project. A planning application is now in for the runway extension at Birmingham International Airport which will improve our connectivity to the most important emerging markets in the Indian Sub Continent, the US and Pacific Rim.
This week, Team Birmingham (and some of my lucky Shoosmiths partners) will be attending the MIPIM property event in Cannes vigorously promoting the opportunities that exist here to the rest of the world.
So, having been part of the initial kick-start of the Masterplan at the Bond Warehouse back in November, I was excited and privileged to be invited to take part at the launch of the much anticipated Big City Plan Charter last month.
The buzz that has been generated through this vital and bold initiative has been exhilarating and it is fantastic to witness both the public and private sector mobilised toward a common goal - a brighter and dynamic future for the city.
Being the representative of the many young professionals within the city, it will probably come as no surprise to you that my main interest in this 20-year vision will be focused on how the city can transform for the better for our city's many young residents who will, if they stay here and make their careers and lives in Birmingham, become the more mature city residents with families of their own.
Therefore, I am delighted to see that the charter incorporates many of the themes that have been raised by young professionals across the city.
For example, the proposal to develop new urban neighbourhoods with a range of accommodation including high-quality family homes, is a bold step forward to reintroduce young families back into the city centre and will surely benefit all who live in the city. Any neighbourhood cannot exist in isolation.
Facilities such as good schools, public spaces, leisure facilities and local health surgeries must be incorporated into the future development plan to ensure the proposed urban village becomes viable and attractive.
Improving the transport infrastructure is also another issue of great importance, as convenience, availability, quality and ease of travel were raised by Birmingham
Future members in our recent survey as being key topics concerning young professionals across the city. This is an issue that young professionals will not allow to be moved down the list of city priorities. I am sure many of us would love to see some innovative form of transport link to move us around the city core, whether that be a tram or something nobody has thought of yet!
I am also encouraged by the increasing value placed on the need for knowledge transfer between businesses and the academic institutions, but in order to achieve this, we must first address the issue of skills retention in as well as attraction to the city.
For without the very people who possess the necessary talent and qualities, the city cannot fully exploit what the Big City Plan has termed as "the big melting pot of learning and business".
It is fantastic to know that young people's views are being heard and taken into account when developing our city's future plan. But this is only the beginning. It was made clear when the Big City Plan was launched that the proposals are designed to stimulate discussion.
This is a fantastic start - with collective input from the public and private sector - we can make it even better. If you haven't done so already, I would urge you to have a look at the website, www.bigcityplan.org.uk to find out more.
So come on Birmingham, heed the call and join the debate so that we can all play a part in shaping the future of the city in which we work and live!
* Alex Bishop is the chair of Birmingham Future.