MULTI-MILLION pound plans to transform the Birmingham International Arena in Solihull into the largest indoor venue in the UK have been recommended for planning approval.
Planning officers at Solihull Council have backed the expansion of the stadium, known as the Resorts World Arena, stating the project will create jobs.
Owners NEC Group hope to make space for 6000 more people at the arena, which would take its capacity up to 21,600.
The £45 million plans would see the Bickenhill venue enjoy a higher capacity than the O2 in London or the Manchester Arena.
Councillors on Solihull’s planning committee will consider the recommendations when they meet remotely on Wednesday (May 27).
NEC Group’s proposals would see a part demolition of the existing arena, with a new roof 10 metres higher than the current one.
In the report to councillors, the council’s planning officials stated: “The plan responds to the growing need for the region to have internationally competitive opportunities for investment.
“The applicants report that this proposal to increase the capacity of the arena is absolutely necessary to ensure that the NEC continues to provide a premier venue that can cater for a wide audience.”
Despite the backing of planning officers, the proposal has been opposed by the council’s urban design team.
Ulrike Kern, senior development officer, said the plans lacked ‘architectural design integrity, innovative or recognisable landmark qualities.’
However, nearby Birmingham Airport offered no objections.
The NEC Group estimates a 40 per cent boost to the arena’s capacity could bring in 120,000 more visitors each year,
An attendance increase of 16 per cent would result in 160 more jobs on site, it added.
The casual workforce for larger events could be expanded by 800 jobs.
An overhaul of the heating and ventilation systems would improve energy efficiency, planning officials say, with a passive-energy thermal roof to maintain its climate.
The arena is set to host indoor sports for the 2022 Commonwealth Games, including badminton, boxing, judo, table tennis, weightlifting and wrestling.