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Urban Initiatives to masterplan Birmingham city centre

Urban Initiatives has won the competition to masterplan a £10 billion regeneration of Birmingham city centre - the UK's 'most ambitious' urban-renewal project.

The far-reaching scheme will integrate various flagship projects, including Arena Central, New Street Station upgrade, Snow Hill redevelopment and the proposed Library of Birmingham, into a holistic blueprint for the city.

It will also spell out ways of enhancing Birmingham's less admired architecture, including Digbeth Bus Station and the notorious Spaghetti Junction.

Urban Initiatives beat four unnamed bidders for the £750,000 masterplan contract. The firm's appointment comes as Birmingham's original city-centre strategy reaches the end of its 20-year lifespan.

The masterplan - to be phased over two decades - will be based on recommendations outlined in a report by the European Institute for Urban Affairs, which recommends expanding Birmingham airport, introducing more public squares and building extra sports facilities.

Birmingham City Council owns almost half the land within the 800ha regeneration zone. Council leader Mike Whitby said: 'The masterplan is the most ambitious and far-reaching city-wide development project ever undertaken in the UK and will underpin the future development of the entire city and wider region for many generations to come.

'By developing an integrated approach within which public and private sectors work in unison, the masterplan will create an environment within which all parts of the city centre are linked together. It will ensure that future change and development is predicted and managed, and opportunities for inward investment are maximised.'

by Clive Walker

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