Category Archives: Planning for Digital Infrastructure

New building in the city, whether commercial or residential, will benefit from better planned and implemented digital infrastructure – incorporating connectivity from the start. The provision of the right combinations of fibre optic cabling, mobile solutions and sensors will help Birmingham be a flexible and resilient city.

You can comment on specific actions for the digital infrastructure listed below:

Birmingham to lead extension of voucher scheme to neighbouring LEPs

In the past few weeks, Government has announced that the Superfast Broadband Voucher Scheme will be extended.

The scheme which allows SMEs to receive up to £3000 grant funding to connect to new, superfast broadband connections has been a big success for Birmingham over the last twelve months and things are about to get even more exciting. Over the past few months, we have been negotiating with Local Authorities from our surrounding areas and we are delighted to announce that Birmingham will become the lead organisation and administrative centre for the newly extended scheme which will now cover the following Local Enterprise Partnerships:

  1. Greater Birmingham and Solihull
  2. Worcestershire
  3. Stoke on Trent and Staffordshire
  4. The Marches – Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin

For further information about the voucher scheme, please visit or alternatively contact Stuart Lester.

Action B2: Regulating infrastructure planning

The Birmingham Development Plan (BDP) will be finalised in 2014  and continued engagement is required to embed the Digital Communications Planning Policy (TP45). To move from optional planning guidance to mandatory requirements, we need to build the understanding of the current planning  landscape, building regulations and standards in place, together with BCC’s Planning and Regeneration department, developers and industry regulators.

Stakeholders identified

  • BCC planning and Regeneration department
  • Digital Birmingham

Potential stakeholders

  • Commercial developers
  • Housing associations
  • Universities
  • Regulators and standards bodies

What makes this approach smart?

Cross sector approach to align the systems and processes for planning and development.

Short-term actions

  • Continue to monitor and progress blueprint principles through the continuing processes of BDP development and ratification of the Digital Communications Planning Policy (TP45)
  • Create a focus group with planners, developers and industry regulators to understand current guidance and legislation, and develop a ‘memorandum of understanding’ that will embed the key principles of the Smart City vision into planning policy and building regulations for all major development/redevelopment schemes in Birmingham.
  • Work with universities, colleagues in BCC, other local authorities and the wider industry to understand the feasibility and impact of new digital planning regulations
  • Develop a Birmingham business case evaluating suitable regeneration locations and infrastructure requirements, complemented with detailed information gained from Actions B1 & B2 (e.g. based on Longbridge and St Modwen)

Future Actions

In development

Action B1: Implementing the Digital Blueprint

The Digital Blueprint contains 10 far reaching recommendations for improving current and future digital infrastructure.  To apply these practical processes, procedures need to be  agreed for the council and developers to:


  • Provide expert guidance to planners/developers
  • Supervise installation and location of ducting
  • Resolve funding and ownership of ducting and state aid implications aid.

Stakeholders identified

  • BCC planning and regeneration department
  • Digital Birmingham

Potential Stakeholders

  • Commercial developers
  • Housing associations
  • Universities

What makes this approach Smart?

Joined up early planning enables better integration and use of infrastructure

Short Term Actions

  • Seek guidance from the European Commission
  • Review good practice elsewhere, e.g. Bristol and Rediffusion, Manchester and Oxford Street development (INCA)
  • Resolve city procedures for gathering planning and location information in a standard format

Future Actions

  • Consider procurement of an ‘open access ducting’ partner to manage and enable utilisation of ducting
  • Assess planned developments to identify target areas for implementation (e.g. Icknield Port Loop) and link to Action B2