The prime minister's confirmation this week of the delivery of the first phase of the High Speed 2 (HS2) rail link has been welcomed by those looking to it to boost regional regeneration and economies. Boris Johnson’s announcement that construction of the first phase of the link, running from London to Birmingham, would begin in April followed on from the independent Oakervee review of the major infrastructure project. In response to the news Andy Street, mayor of the West Midlands, said, “HS2 will put us at the heart of the UK’s transport system, and we will be able to attract big-name companies to the region”. Councillor Ian Ward, leader of Birmingham City Council, said, "This is not about fast trains - it's about jobs, skills and opportunities”. The West Midlands Combined Authority's HS2 growth strategy identifies the potential to add £14 billion to the regional economy and support 100,000 jobs. A number of major regeneration projects are planned along the route, including the development of 4,000 homes as part of a regeneration plan for the area around the HS2 Curzon Street station, in Birmingham. However, the prime minister said that further work will be carried out into the scope of the planned second phase of HS2.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has launched a £3.6 million fund to help improve the energy efficiency and heating of existing council and housing association homes across the capital. The Retrofit Accelerator for Homes programme will support upgrades, such as better insulation, low carbon heat and alternative power sources, and will offer councils and housing associations advice and guidance on large scale energy efficiency projects. Mayor Khan said, “London’s ageing and energy-inefficient homes are responsible for around one third of the capital’s greenhouse gas emissions and urgently need to be refitted.”
The Liverpool Waters development in Liverpool is among seven locations receiving £40 million of government backing for heat network schemes, under its heat network investment project (HNIP). Peel Energy has been awarded £1.3 million towards the first phase of delivery of its Mersey Heat Network, which is expected to provide heat for up to 9,000 homes as well as commercial space at Liverpool Waters. Others receiving funding for district heating from the HNIP are: Barking town centre, Bristol City Council, Bristol Redcliffe, Leeds City Council, Energetik/Meridian Water and Veolia/South East London Combined Heat and Power (SELCHP). The government’s independent advisor, the Committee on Climate Change, estimates that around 18 per cent of UK heat will need to come from heat networks by 2050 if the UK is to meet its net zero target.
The development partners behind the emerging Airport City Manchester district, beside Manchester airport, have sealed a deal that will see them developing the scheme’s first office space, with a headquarters campus for e-commerce business The Hut Group (THG). The project’s first phase will deliver more than 26,000 square metres of business space for THG, with its completed campus having more than 90,000 square metres. Airport City Manchester is being delivered by a development partnership including Manchester Airports Group, Beijing Construction Engineering Group International and the Greater Manchester Pension Fund. The partners are expanding the airport location into a business destination with offices, hotels, logistics and manufacturing space.
Developer Grosvenor has appointed architect Tonkin Liu to redesign Grosvenor Square, in Mayfair, London. Anna Liu, director at Tonkin Liu, said, "Having responded to the shared vision put together by Grosvenor, local residents and Londoners, we will use nature and collective storytelling to deliver a vision of local and universal resonance".