Guide to the Midlands Engine

Q3 2017

The Midlands region is growing as the country’s industrial powerhouse – thanks to the Midlands Engine plans. We take a look at what they could mean for you.

Bhavash Vashi

Senior Associate Director, National Development and Planning

+44 1865 366 669

Bridging the geographic gap between the thriving economy of London and the new Northern Powerhouse, the Midlands Engine will boost the economy of the region - from Birmingham to Leicester.

What is the Midlands Engine?

The Midlands region, especially around Birmingham, is classed as the home of British industry. It was here the Industrial Revolution began. And today, the region has huge economic potential. Currently, its economy is worth £217.7 billion – or 13% of the UK’s annual output.

But in recent years, it has fallen behind its southern neighbours, despite having Britain’s second largest city.

The Midlands Engine is a plan – designed by local authorities, the Government and local enterprise partnerships – to reverse this decline. The strategy is to invest £392m in local transport, £20m on skills and £250m for small businesses.

The plan is based around five key themes:

  • Midlands Connect: On top of HS2 (see below), the Midlands Engine will lean on its road and rail networks such as the M6, M1, West Coast Mainline, East Coast Mainline and Midlands Mainline. Birmingham Airport is also central to the plans.
  • Innovation: The aim is to address the gaps in national capability, while keeping the businesses that are already in the region there. These include the likes of Rolls Royce, Arup and JCB. It is also to drive inward investment, safeguard and increase employment, and equip UK businesses to lead globally.
  • Skills: Many skilled young people are leaving the region for places like London. To keep them local, the aim is to link skills providers and training to employer demand. This includes helping the future workforce understand the nature of upcoming employment opportunities and the skills levels these demand.
  • Finance for business:To provide a variety of new and strong businesses, Midlands Engine partners will try to simplify and streamline funding opportunities and integrate recyclable funds.
  • Promotion: What’s the point of doing all this good work if no one knows about it? Not only will they promote business opportunities but also tourism in the area.

How does HS2 fit in?

Central to the plan is the creation of the High Speed 2 (HS2) railway.

Not only will this huge project create jobs and investment in the area through the creation of new routes and stations, it’ll also reduce the time it takes to reach Birmingham and its surrounding areas from London.

This will - it is hoped - make it more appealing as a base for businesses and workers, who will be able to reach London in under an hour.

What about the rest of the Midlands?

While much of the business in the region focusses on Birmingham, the Midlands stretch as far east as Leicester. And the Midlands Engine plans reflect this, with the following projects…

  • Nottingham: £1bn city-centre regeneration project
  • Leicester: £75m ‘space park’ planned for the University of Leicester
  • Stoke-on-Trent: £350m of investment, including Smithfield, where new offices and a hotel are planned