The full business case for the first phase of improvements – to be completed before the city welcomes around half a million more visitors during the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games – will be discussed on 19 January 2021.
Work on the £12.4 million first phase are set to begin in the summer, and will see improvements to Victoria Square, The River (the Floozie’s real name) repaired and reinstated as a fountain, along with improved security measures to replace current temporary arrangements.
It has been more than 25 years since significant improvements have been made to the city centre's public spaces - Victoria Square was pedestrianised in 1993 - and this is set to be a very busy area by next summer when the Games are in full flow.
Improving pedestrian areas and widening pavements will also help the city’s economic recovery from Covid-19 – particularly retail and hospitality sectors hard hit by the pandemic – by providing more space for tables and chairs, queues and social distancing.
Cllr Ian Ward, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “Our city centre welcomes more than 42 million people a year and following the regeneration of Centenary Square and Paradise, it’s time for the business and retail areas to be revitalised.
“While improving public spaces in the city centre will enable us offer a world-class welcome to all for the Commonwealth Games, it will also support the economic recovery for businesses impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.”
This initial phase of works will be carried out in two parts: the first includes the improvements to Victoria Square, The River fountain and installation of permanent security measures at seven locations. The latter forms part of a comprehensive safety and security strategy for the city centre – replacing temporary measures which have been in situ for several years.
Second part of these works, which are set to be completed by October 2023, will see areas around Colmore Row and Waterloo Street made pedestrian and cyclist friendly.
The overall scheme’s budget of £20.478 million is to be funded by £5 million secured from the Government’s Transforming Cities Fund and the remaining £15.478 million will be funded by Clean Air Zone revenues. Should the funding identified not become available for Phase 1 works, use of corporate resources was approved within the council’s annual budget in February 2020.