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We know that HS2 will arrive in Birmingham in 2026. But have we put enough thought into what High Speed Rail (HSR) will mean for the West Midlands? We might be planning the changes which need to be made in the short term. Equally, if not more importantly, how can we use HSR to plan for a more equal distribution of jobs, housing, health and green spaces? What about the creation of better places across the whole conurbation so HSR is not just benefiting Birmingham?

 This should be a once in a lifetime opportunity for the over three million citizens of the conurbation and the nearly six million in the whole of the West Midlands. HSR, if properly integrated into the conurbation, will have a huge physical, economic, cultural, and psychological impact. But is enough attention being paid to this impact? Is the West Midlands making the most of it?

For example, what will HSR mean for our quality of life, our housing, our investment and development locations, the conurbation’s key centres, our cultural life, and our environmental assets? Is there a clear single integrated and holistic strategic spatial framework, which will optimise the benefits of HSR for everyone?

If you are interested in this topic and would like to discuss further, please contact Keith Horsfall FRSA:


Key questions for discussion include:

  • How can HSR improve the quality of life for the region as a whole?
  • How can HSR encourage people to visit in greater numbers, stay longer, walk further, and cycle more in and around the conurbation as a whole (i.e. to improve health)?
  • How can HSR help re-establish the symbiotic relationship between the city and its surroundings, creating a different kind of urban living?
  • How can HSR help make sure that people, their children, and grandchildren choose to stay in the region because of the high quality of life, employment, and educational opportunities?
  • How can HSR contribute to the resolution of our housing crisis?
  • What does HSR mean for our existing conurbation centres?
  • What does HSR mean for the future disposition of investment locations?
  • What are the alternative futures for the cultural life of the conurbation when HSR speeds up two-way connections between Birmingham, London, Paris, and beyond?
  • What does HSR mean for regional transport infrastructure, environmental resources, and integrated connectivity?


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