Newly opened Birmingham New Street station gives property market a boost

Record investment activity in commercial property underpinned by infrastructure investment in Birmingham.

Final days of work on the Birmingham New Street passenger concourse

A massive £750M redevelopment of Birmingham’s New Street Station has boosted investment in real estate, a leading property consultant said this week. "The level of investment activity in Birmingham this year is unprecedented. We fully expect £1billion of commercial property to change hands by the end of 2015, a level never before seen in the city,” said Martin Guest, managing director of the Birmingham office of global property consultants CBRE. "We know from our own conversations with both investors and office occupiers that the infrastructure improvements, and in particular the investment in New Street station, have played a part in their decision making,” he said. 

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Guest also explained that the £1bn in investment follows on from major institutions including Deutsche Bank, HS2 and HSBC committing to offices in the city, which was also creating thousands of new jobs. “The station redevelopment has been a key project for the city, stimulating economic growth and regeneration and, with the added creation of Grand Central; it has provided one of the best-connected retail spaces in the country," said leader of Birmingham City Council, Sir Albert Bore,at the opening of the new 300,000 passenger station which includes the new Grand Central shopping complex. "This is sure to have a catalytic effect on further regeneration of the city centre and attracting businesses to Birmingham,” he said explaining that the development created over 3000 local jobs including 115 apprenticeships during construction.

"We fully expect £1billion of commercial property to change hands by the end of 2015, a level never before seen in the city.”

Martin Guest, managing director of property consultant CBRE in Birmingham

Creation of the new station has been a five year construction project for client Network Rail, undertaken by main contractor Mace with design support from Atkins. An average of 1200 workers per day delivered the scheme with a peak of 3500 in the final months. A new concourse, improved vertical access to the platforms and a huge increase in passenger capacity were all critical components of the new station which had to remain operational throughout the construction project. The final structure involves nine interdependent concrete frames over four levels with the concept design for the futuristic new roof structure and stainless steel façade undertaken by Foreign Office Architects (FOA).

As the station remained operational, with a train leaving or arriving every 37 seconds, the team removed 47,500 tonnes of material to make way for the new structure including the 22 storey Stephenson Tower. “Rebuilding one of the busiest stations in the country without impacting on passengers’ journeys has been a major challenge, but I’m extremely proud to say that Network Rail and our partners on this project have done just that. That’s a significant achievement for everyone who has helped build this fantastic new station of which they, and all of Birmingham, can be very proud indeed,” said Mark Carne, chief executive of Network Rail.

The 450,000 sq ft Grand Central shopping centre will open later this week and hosts the UK’s largest John Lewis store outside of London. The centre will create 1000 jobs and is expected to attract more than 50 million visitors per year. “Following the reveal of the station on Sunday, we are excited to be opening the doors of Grand Central on Thursday 24 September,” said Richard Brown, Grand Central development director. “ Being situated above the magnificent station will offer a unique and unforgettable shopping experience for all. We are proud that Birmingham is at forefront of such an impressive aesthetic design which will be enjoyed and admired by people across the UK and worldwide.”

"One of the negatives of the previous station was that New Street effectively divided the city centre.....but the new design changes all that."

Andy Street, managing director of John Lewis and chairman of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP

The station’s new layout will reconnect the north and south side of Birmingham for the first time since the arrival of the railway in the 19th century. "One of the negatives of the previous station – aside from the appalling first impression it gave to millions of visitors to our city, was that New Street effectively divided the city centre,” said Andy Street, managing director of John Lewis and chairman of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership. "The area known as Southside was not accessible from the busy main shopping and business areas, unless you were prepared to go around the station, but the new design changes all that with the main entrance actually opening onto Southside, this part of the city is now easily accessible and you can already see the benefits as investment is starting to flow to it. When the station and Grand Central are complete, people's perceptions and experience of the city will be transformed, while the wider project will be an economic force not just for the site but for Birmingham and the West Midlands as a whole."

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