The UK Central Hub is an economic area which includes the significant infrastructure of Birmingham Airport, the National Exhibition Centre, Jaguar Land Rover, Birmingham International Station and Birmingham Business Park. From 2026 it will also include the High Speed 2 rail station and the enormous mixed use Arden Cross development. Each of the stakeholders has ambitious growth plans that will dramatically increase the level of employment and housing in the Hub area, and support the wider West Midlands economy. In order to support this opportunity Solihull Council formed the Urban Growth Company (UGC) to concentrate public sector investment on removing infrastructure constraints. As an EIZ, the wider significance of UK Central Hub is that it epitomises the energy challenges of a modern multi-modal transport hub.

Illustration of UK Central Solihull Energy Innovation Zone
Illustration of UK Central Solihull Energy Innovation Zone

The Hub is only one of UK Central’s four development zones. The others are North Solihull, Solihull Town Centre, and Blythe Valley Park. Each has its own energy challenges and priorities. North Solihull, for example, must regenerate large amounts of 1950s/60s housing stock in Chelmsley Wood, where there are high levels of fuel poverty. Solihull Town Centre has recently completed a feasibility study that identified a low-carbon heat network opportunity that would be both technically and economically viable. Blythe Valley has the potential to develop a hydrogen hub. Each could therefore form its own EIZ, but there may also be a case for creating a single overarching EIZ to cover all four UK Central development zones.