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Special Report: Arden Cross

Mark Hempshell reports

Major development schemes have been arriving thick and fast in the UK over the last few years. However, one very sizable scheme – which appears to be pressing ahead undiminished even in the light of Covid-19 – is Arden Cross in the Midlands. In this report we will take a closer look at what is planned here.

Before looking at exactly what is proposed it is perhaps the location of this scheme that is most significant. The site occupies a triangle of land formed by the M42, A452 and A45 at junction 6 of the M42 motorway, which is currently mainly agricultural land. Within the Solihull local authority area, development here is likely to significantly impact residential and commercial markets in nearby Birmingham, Coventry and the wider West Midlands area too.

Its developers describe Arden Cross as a £3bn masterplan for a 140 hectare (346 acre) site to the east of Birmingham, alongside Birmingham Airport, the NEC, Birmingham Business Park, Resorts World Birmingham and the Jaguar Land Rover plant. It is an integral part of the Urban Growth Company’s (UGC’s) wider plans for the development of the UK Central Hub in the area.

The area already benefits from excellent road accessibility plus proximity to Birmingham Airport and rail services at Birmingham International railway station. However, it is due to become even more accessible when the new HS2 Interchange station, which has recently received planning approval, opens and with the HS2 line itself actually bisecting the site.
When HS2 services start, currently projected for 2028-2031, Arden Cross will have HS2 services into Birmingham, and to London (Euston and Old Oak Common) in 38 minutes, Manchester in 37 minutes, an East Midlands hub at Toton in 17 minutes, and Leeds in 46 minutes. It is planned that an automated people mover (APM) from the station itself will take visitors and commuters to the NEC and the other key sites nearby to which Arden Cross will also link by way of a central avenue.

The developers say they are creating a ‘sustainable new business, leisure and residential destination and world leading economic hub’ at Arden Cross, which is planned to consist of up to 6m square feet of commercial space, what are described as ‘learning places’, up to 3,000 new homes, associated amenities and extensive public realm and green space. In pointing to the mixed use nature of the scheme they say that ‘by co-locating business, and living and learning within a sustainable urban environment with the highest quality infrastructure, it will create a positive, long lasting legacy for those living and working in the region and beyond.’

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