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First HS2 Is Approved, Now Massive Birmingham Airport Expansion?


credit: California High-Speed Rail Authority (image in public domain)

As the Birmingham property industry celebrates the final, definitive green-means-go for the HS2 high speed rail link to London, so another fascinating infrastructure prospect rears its head.

Speaking yesterday in the House of CommonsBoris Johnson, the prime minister, appeared to hint that the proposed third runway at London Heathrow airport could be abandoned, and that additional passenger capacity could be diverted to an extra runway at Birmingham.

Johnson has long been an opponent of expansion at Heathrow.

“Passengers arriving at Birmingham Airport will be able to get to central London by train in 38 minutes, which compares favourably with the time it takes to get from Heathrow by taxi, a point I just draw to the attention of the House,” he said.

Asked about the Heathrow runway plan Johnson said: “I see no bulldozers at present, nor any immediate prospect of them arriving.”

The suggestion that Birmingham Airport could benefit from the remarks were dismissed as unlikely according to a source quoted by Politico. The source said the idea has received no discussion and warned against over-interpreting off-the-cuff remarks.

However, during his term as Mayor of London Johnson used to joke about expanding Birmingham airport rather than Heathrow, Huffington Post UK reported.

Whether or not Birmingham gains at Heathrow’s expense, the consensus among property market observers is that it will gain powerfully from HS2.

“HS2 is a honeypot for Birmingham," CBRE Birmingham Managing Director Martin Guest said. "For developers, investors and employers, a robust transport infrastructure is irresistible. 

“Our offices team has advised occupiers who have come to the city for the first time, as well as indigenous occupiers sufficiently confident to commit to growth here. Our planning team is now busy submitting plans for the new interchange station at Solihull." 

“It’s extremely positive that the PM has reassured us that Phase 2 will also go ahead, following a review," SevenCapital Managing Director Damien Siviter said. "It’s now highly important that things move quickly to get Phase 1 off the ground before the end of the decade and phase two confirmed sooner rather than later.” 

In its response, local transport organisation Midlands Connect insisted HS2 must be integrated with the Midlands Engine rail proposals, and demanded a role in any further review of the Phase 2 northern leg to the East Midlands, Leeds and Manchester.

"A further review of HS2 Phase 2 (b) is an opportunity to make sure that HS2 is properly integrated with Midlands Engine Rail, and that other rail improvements are brought forward before the HS2 East Midlands Hub station at Toton is operational,” Midlands Connect Chairman Sir John Peace said.