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Aston Science Park, Birmingham, United Kingdom, 2007/05/01 - Birmingham’s flagship regeneration projects, worth a total of £150 million, have been visited by ten of the region’s most high profile and powerful individuals as part of a tour to boost the image of the West Midlands.
The West Midlands Ambassadors – including Sir Digby Jones, Pertemps boss Tim Watts and BBC Broadcaster Adrian Chiles – have agreed to represent the region through Advantage West Midlands’ regional marketing campaign.
During the visit they were shown some of Birmingham’s most exciting regeneration projects at Fort Dunlop, Eastside and the Custard Factory.
All of the projects are within the East Birmingham and North Solihull Regeneration Zone and between them have created 13,000 new jobs.
The first port of call, Fort Dunlop, has been transformed by Advantage West Midlands and developers Urban Splash after the former Dunlop tyre warehouse stood derelict for 25 years.
Following a £50 million revamp, the Fort is now home to a hotel, offices and shops and is expected to eventually create around 5,000 jobs.
Eastside is a long-term development led by Birmingham City Council which is regenerating the whole of the eastern quarter of Birmingham.
The latest phases are focused around Millennium Point with a new Learning and Leisure Quarter – already home to Birmingham and Solihull New Technology Institute and Matthew Boulton College – the proposed City Park and Ventureast, a major business development being delivered through a joint-venture between Advantage West Midlands and Birmingham City Council which will be a national exemplar for sustainable regeneration.
The final stop, the Custard Factory in Digbeth, is already one of Europe’s most established clusters of creative business with more than 700 people employed at the former Bird’s Custard works.
As a result of the success of the development, work is soon to start on the £20 million next phase of development which will see Devonshire House and Fazeley Studios converted, creating more than 100 new workshop units and around 300 jobs, which has been supported with £6.4 million from Advantage West Midlands (advantagewm.co.uk).
Each of the flagship developments, along with the emerging Birmingham Gateway development at New Street, are linked into the communities of Birmingham through the Regeneration Zone through a number of initiatives aimed at making sure the jobs go to the areas of most need.
Nick Paul, Advantage West Midlands Chairman, said: “The West Midlands Ambassadors are a key part of our ongoing campaign to improve perceptions of our region on a national and international stage.
“These people, who are so passionate about the West Midlands that they have given up valuable time for free, have a huge amount of profile and influence nationally.
“This visit is the first of its kind and gives us the chance to show how transformation is in progress in our region and how Advantage West Midlands is working with partners to really make a difference.
“From Fort Dunlop, where the impossible really has been achieved in creating vibrancy from dereliction, to the emerging Eastside development and the on-going success of the Custard Factory are all schemes that any city in Europe would be proud of.
“Birmingham, one of the largest cities in Europe and the UK’s second city, is completely unrecognisable compared to 20 years ago and the transformation is by no means complete.
“Going forward, we will be taking the Ambassadors to other parts of the region to see work there that is having a similar impact and provide inspiration for the group to promote the West Midlands as a world-class location in which to invest, work, learn, visit and live.”
Sir Digby Jones, Chairman of the West Midlands Ambassadors, said: “The tour has been a fantastic opportunity for us to see work which we might not otherwise have seen and I’ve noted two or three things that have really inspired me.
“But the job of the Ambassadors really starts once the visit is complete – we all need to go out and tell the world about the excellent work going on in Birmingham and inspire them as well.”
Attending the visit were Sir Digby Jones, Sir Adrian Cadbury, Adrian Chiles, Doug Ellis OBE, Sir Peter Rigby, Andrew Sleigh, Professor Michael Sterling, Carol Undy, Tim Watts and Dr Brian Woods-Scawen.