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Report

Towns and Local Centres Ecosystem: Growing our Towns

Context

The Greater Birmingham and Solihull Strategic Economic Plan (SEP) sets out a clear objective to “develop thriving towns and local centres”. Building on its 2019 Towns and Local Centres Framework, Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP has worked with ten towns to develop thinking on how investment could be made in the future based on clear evidence about strengths, challenges and future opportunities that centres outside of central Birmingham face.  These priorities will be used to guide thinking on future opportunities for investment in these ten towns and right across the geography.  They are consistent with the guidance in the Town and Local Centres Framework, whilst showing in more detail the interventions which have potential, particularly in strengthening local labour markets, supporting business enterprise and improving communities’ ability to access opportunities.

Birmingham is a major global city and driver of UK growth and investment.  But the surrounding towns and local centres are themselves a crucial part of the economic and social success and future of the area.  The evidence from comparable regions in the UK and Europe is clear: our towns will play an important role in future growth, both complementing the city centre offer, and acting as centres of employment and opportunity in their own right.

The ten town centres in this report are home to nearly 20,500 businesses, or 27.5% of the total businesses in Greater Birmingham. Those businesses employ 71,500 people and are increasingly looking to town centres to offer a high-quality urban experience for their employees. These towns are also important places to live, home to 670,000 people, with increasingly strong demand for more town centre housing.

Despite the current economic challenges, overall this is an economy that is experiencing a renaissance.  Strong growth is forecast in business and professional services, the creative industries and health technologies.  The region’s world-class manufacturing sector will continue to innovate and change as technology and automation transforms supply chains and all aspects of industrial production.  All will continue to be driven by rapidly changing digital technologies. This future offers huge opportunities for Greater Birmingham and Solihull towns, as well as challenges in adapting to the constantly changing nature of how people live and work.

Towns and local centres are central to continuing the recent success of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull area, including in how responses to post Brexit labour, trading and regulatory changes are framed and how the Greater Birmingham and Solihull economy emerges robustly from the economic challenges of the response to COVID-19.

Evidence

Each of the towns and local centres had their own report data and corresponding evidence, copies of which can be found below:

Further information on opportunities for future action and investment can be found here.