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Blackstone's NEC Megaplan Pivots To Residential

Paradise by Birmingham Airport?

The 65-acre NEC campus near Birmingham is to be transformed into a new paradise of homes, open spaces and greenery, according to a masterplan published Wednesday.

The Blackstone-owned NEC Group launched the new NEC masterplan for the site currently home to the UK’s largest exhibition venue — which houses the National Exhibition Centre, the Vox Conference Venue, Resorts World Arena, Resorts World Birmingham, The Bear Grylls Adventure and a number of hotels. 

But the major brownfield development pivots away from commercial development and toward new homes.

The site will see 377K SF of new commercial space, and up to 5,000 new homes, along with a school and outdoor event space.

A document published by NEC Group promises a “greener and more sustainable environment on the NEC Campus”.

“Living and working in harmony with the existing mature woodland and hedgerow landscape, the urban village will promote nature focused and active lifestyles. The ability to integrate the Bickenhill Plantation with the urban village will bring significant benefits through community access and environmental and ecological enhancements,” it said.

Connecting the site with Arden Cross and the High Speed 2 Interchange, the urban boulevard will extend a pedestrian-focused public realm from the NEC Piazza to a new bridge link over the M42. The urban boulevard will host a series of commercial buildings with ground-floor retail and leisure space. 

The site is ideally placed for international connectivity, giving rise to hopes it would see commercial development to take advantage of the High Speed 2 rail interchange Station being built at Arden Cross, adjacent to the NEC Campus.

The NEC Campus is part of the UK Hub site totalling 1,600 acres around the HS2 connection.

The Hub site includes the NEC, the HS2 station and the 346-acre Arden Cross scheme including offices, retail and perhaps a film studio.

At nearby Arden Cross the proposed development tilts the other way, with 4.6M SF of offices and around 3.5M SF of residential. 

“The NEC Campus sits within a major engine of economic growth in the UK, recognised as one of the best-connected development zones in Europe," NEC Group Chief Executive Paul Thandi said. "This masterplan unites corporate ambition with global purpose, setting out our vision whilst considering eco and socially responsible practices. The NEC Group is committed to working in partnership with our landowners Birmingham City Council, to unlock the full and exciting potential of the site.” 

The masterplan will be subject to a six-week period of public consultation running from 10 November 2021 to 24 December 2021.