Southside Business Improvement District (BID) has unveiled an ambitious strategic vision to drive economic growth and support its future development as a diverse cultural centre. Through a series of three connected plans covering access and transport, festivals and events and Southside’s potential to become a Cultural Action Zone, the BID has worked with local businesses and key city stakeholders to propose a series of strategic and practical recommendations.
Southside’s Access Strategy sets out new proposals to transform Hurst Street at the heart of the district into a space which is far more welcoming for pedestrians, cyclists and disabled people. This bold strategy will see a wholesale redesign of the current streetscape, removing kerbs, parking spaces and the separation between road space and pedestrian space to promote café culture and pedestrianising Hurst Street at night, reducing vehicle based anti-social behaviour.
The strategy also seeks to make cycling routes safer and more user friendly and introduce more green infrastructure into the district. With city centre footfall still below pre-pandemic levels, Southside’s Festival & Events Strategy proposes a series of recommendations to support the return of major events to the district, enabling Southside to create a meaningful sense of place as well as contributing to the social, cultural and economic growth of the area.
As the cultural heart of Birmingham, and home to a number of significant festivals including Birmingham Pride, Chinese New Year and Summer in Southside, the recommendations include the protection of a large open space within Southside, the creation of a festivals committee that can work together on funding applications and share learnings and insights, the appointment of a part-time coordinator who can support Birmingham’s creative network and encourage more festivals activity and the creation of an evaluation team who can monitor the social and economic impact.
Closely connected to the BID’s Festivals & Events Strategy is Southside’s proposal to become a Cultural Action Zone, positioning the district as a leader of world-class cultural events and visitor experiences with diverse communities and engagement at its heart. Designed to create thriving areas for people to live, work and visit, Cultural Action Zones are a key driver to invigorate the economic recovery of city centres.
Southside’s proposal outlines how it would build on its regional distinctiveness, extend and create new class-leading assets, take an innovative approach to cultural investment and contribute to a cluster-based model to support the local culture eco-system.
Julia Robinson, Southside BID Manager said, “As Birmingham’s most diverse and vibrant district we have been focused on ensuring that we do everything we can to plan for a future that celebrates and supports the success of our businesses and cultural venues. After the hugely challenging climate of the past three years, our strategic vision puts forward practical changes and recommendations to ensure we can live up to our ambition to become a world-class cultural centre, driving economic growth for Southside and Birmingham.”