Thousands of jobs and homes on the way with NEC masterplan

More than 2,000 homes and 10,000 new jobs will be created under a new masterplan for the future of the NEC exhibition site as 'nec.city'.

An artist's impression of a new masterplan for the future of the NEC exhibition site
An artist's impression of a new masterplan for the future of the NEC exhibition site

The proposals involve redeveloping around 185 acres of land around the NEC Campus, creating nearly 3.4 million sq ft of new floorspace, up to 10,000 new jobs and 2,500 new homes. A new film and TV studio and a 'landmark theatre' on the site is also proposed.

It comes in the same week as the nearby Birmingham Airport unveiled its own £500 million growth masterplan as it expands to handle 18 million passengers a year by 2033.

The masterplan has been unveiled jointly by Birmingham City Council and the NEC Group, and city councillors are expected to give their backing to the project at their cabinet meeting next Tuesday.

2,500 new apartments around Lakeside are among the key proposals

It is also backed by NEC's new owners, US investment group Blackstone, which bought the business from the investment arm of Lloyds Bank for around £800 million last month. Birmingham council retains a freehold interest in the land at the Solihull site.

Paul Thandi , chief executive of the NEC Group, said: "With the backing of our new majority shareholder, Blackstone, we have ambitious plans to develop our business further.

"The Masterplan is an important element of that expansion and builds on the excellent progress we have made over the last few years towards creating a truly world-class business, entertainment and leisure destination."

The site will be known as 'nec.city'

The site is already home to the NEC, its sister venue Genting Arena, Resorts World Birmingham and the recently-opened Bear Grylls Adventure attraction, operated by Alton Tower's owner Merlin. Together they cater for more than seven million visitors each year.

The NEC Masterplan sets out 'significant growth opportunities' through the redevelopment. Although no overall time scale is suggested, the first phase of work could start over the next five years with a proposed film and TV production studio, the first homes and road changes to make way for future building work.

A report to councillors describes the future 'nec.city' as "an internationally unique destination with global appeal that fuses entertainment, leisure, exhibition space, commercial and residential offers across a 175 hectare campus with the existing NEC at its heart."

Five 'big moves' are at the heart of the plan.

The first is to strengthen and broaden the appeal of the NEC as a global exhibition centre, with new entrances including a piazza with an iconic hotel, an improved public square with 'an animated space' to host events and activities, linking the NEC with its Lakeside area.

10,000 new jobs will be created, according to the council

An ‘entertainment zone’ would provide a unique business and visitor destination, offering a range of 'experiential leisure opportunities' alongside a proposed 'internationally significant' film and television production studio and a new theatre

A new residential community would be build around the Lakeside area as the leisure area expands on the existing Arena and Resorts World.

The masterplan also proposes a 'commercial gateway of business and mixed use development'.

The fifth element will be a rapid transit loop connecting all the destinations across the site, linking in with a future Metro extension from East Birmingham, the two HS2 stations at Curzon and the Interchange as well as the existing Birmingham International railway station. A series of Sprint routes linking the wider UK Central development area with Birmingham and Solihull are also proposed.

Ian Ward, leader of Birmingham City Council, said: "I am delighted to launch this Masterplan which sets out a radical vision for the transformation of the NEC campus which will not only see the Midlands International appeal and global position strengthened but also bring huge economic benefits to our local communities."

Waheed Nazir, the council's corporate director for economy, added: "The NEC campus is a unique development opportunity which can accommodate significant commercial, residential and leisure uses that will complement our ambitious plans in Birmingham City Centre at Curzon and Birmingham Smithfield."

The leader of Solihull council, Councillor Bob Sleigh, said: "I welcome the publication of this Masterplan for the NEC which has been identified as one of the main areas for growth in the UK Central Hub, Solihull. These ambitious proposals to continue the diversification of the leisure and entertainment offer are a key component of the UK Central vision to be globally renowned as one of the best connected destinations for business, leisure and living in Europe and a major engine for growth in the UK."

NEC recently announced an £8.5m project to transform the campus with hi-tech digital displays and a facelift for the exterior of exhibition halls that can be backlit to impressive effect. A 224-bedroom Moxy Hotel is under construction and due to open in the middle of next year.

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