Birmingham has been ranked as having the highest quality of life of any English city outside of the capital, by the global Mercer Quality of Living Report 2017.
Released today (14/03), the survey places Birmingham jointly with Glasgow in 53rd out of 231 global destinations. The city is placed ahead of international hotspots such as Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Miami and Dubai.
Mercer’s survey this year also includes an independent ‘City Infrastructure’ ranking, which places Birmingham jointly alongside Edinburgh and Glasgow, as the top UK cities outside London for the quality of their infrastructure. This ranking examines important factors such as transportation, electricity and water supply and the range of international flights available from local airports.
John Clancy, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said:
“The fantastic quality of life in Birmingham is increasingly recognised, not just in this country but around the world. From our renowned Michelin-starred restaurants, to an unrivalled cultural offer with gems like the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and the Birmingham Royal Ballet, plus international sporting events, this city has something for everyone.
“The number of foreign visitors has doubled in just three years, and we are the most popular destination for Londoners wishing to make a new life outside of the capital. Add to this, a business growth rate higher than all UK cities, an economic growth rate of 13.5% in the past five years, and 10,000 new homes planned for the city centre, and it is obvious that Birmingham is becoming a destination of choice.”
The news on Birmingham’s ranking follows a wave of record figures for the city’s visitor economy. Birmingham’s hotel sector saw its most successful year in history, with hotel occupancy peaking at 99% and averaging at 75% during 2016. Whilst the Birmingham Perception Survey 2016*, revealed Birmingham has witnessed the greatest improvement in perceptions of all major UK cities in the last 12 months. Data from Marketing Birmingham’s Regional Observatory** also demonstrated the proportion of both international visitors and overnight visitors to the city have doubled in the last three years.
The same level of confidence is reflected in Birmingham’s physical landscape, reinforcing Mercer’s City Infrastructure ranking. A rise in new and relocating businesses has seen office construction in the city reach its highest level in more than 13 years. Last year, 969,000 sq ft of office space was under construction – a significant boost from the city’s 10-year average figure of 384,000 sq ft.
Neil Rami, Chief Executive of Marketing Birmingham, added:
“This is an encouraging report, reflecting the increasingly positive sentiment towards Birmingham as a place to live, visit and invest in. Lower living costs are tempting more and more people to live in Birmingham, and more businesses – from ambitious start-ups to global names like HSBC and PwC – to relocate or grow here.
“Essential to the quality of life in Birmingham is advancements in the city’s infrastructure and transport. Birmingham witnessed a 10-fold increase in the construction of residential schemes last year, whilst office construction is at a 13 year high. Expansion plans for Birmingham Airport and the city’s Metro lines, and the major plans surrounding the city’s High Speed Two line, are improving Birmingham’s connectivity, making the city an even more attractive proposition”.
Birmingham’s quality of living will prove a major selling point at MIPIM 2017 – an international real estate show attended by the property sector’s influencers, investors and decision makers. Beginning today, MIPIM will welcome Birmingham as part of a wider ‘Midlands UK’ delegation, which will showcase the region’s offer to some 23,000 delegates.
Ian Stringer, Regional Senior Director at GVA, who is part of the Midlands UK MIPIM delegation, added:
“Birmingham has undergone a massive transformation in the last decade, particularly in the eyes of visitors who are increasingly being drawn to the city to witness what all the fuss is about. There is also a virtuous circle of major businesses relocating to the city, such as Deutsche Bank, HS2 and HSBC, and the highest number of business start-ups recorded anywhere is the UK.
“Birmingham’s current success is a direct result of people coming to see the city for themselves, rather than drawing upon outdated views of the city’s industrial past. There is now a vibrant Birmingham ‘lifestyle’ developing which is inclusive and multi-cultural. The city boasts a diverse range of events and festivals – at the same time, a restaurant revolution is currently hitting the city with a huge range of culinary offers, giving Birmingham’s record number of visitors even more to experience”.
* Marketing Birmingham has conducted the Perception Survey since 2005 to provide market intelligence on perceptions of Birmingham as a place to visit, do business and as a place for businesses to relocate to.
**The Regional Observatory Team provides data, intelligence and analysis to inform the work of Marketing Birmingham, Birmingham City Council, the GBSLEP and the new West Midlands Combined Authority.
(Images: Ross Jukes)