Bristol, Birmingham and Southampton have had new vision mixers owing to the original GVG Zodiak desks reaching end of life. Oxford took some gallery kit from BBC Manchester after NW moved to Salford and replaced their original GVG Pres mixer.
Let's not forget as well that a lot of the VMs that have replaced the 'Project England' kit across the regions are HD capable, it's the backend and cameras that often aren't, as well streams. It's an easy operation to replace kit in a gallery and studio but if they can't send things to transmission/transmit in HD it's fruitless.
Birmingham's GVG Kula 3 can manage UHD, but the cameras and output streams can't even manage 720p, along with most of the aparatus in the apps room.
Yep - some regions now have HD-capable cameras and/or vision mixers, and I think all main regions now have HD-capable GVG/SAM/Quantel servers for playout. They have had HD-capable location cameras for quite a long time (may even be on 2nd generation in some cases).
However a station is more than the sum of its parts - the glue (particularly up/down conversion), main router/matrix, monitoring, and dull stuff like building cabling etc. all need to be upgraded for HD working, and there needs to be a route to actually get that HD content to the audience at home (or you end up with another London, Plymouth or Salford)
NB 720p and 1080i are almost always supported by the same kit so 720p isn't seen as a 'lower spec' format than 1080i in production terms. (It's actually 1080p25 that is usually the additional cost option, or in some cases the format that isn't supported)
I don't really talk to many people in the industry (though a few I went to school with went into that field) and the Kula IP model is being considered as part of the 'ViLOR' style shift in the regions (along with others, obviously full tendering process will need to take place)
If a 2110/2022-7 style remote production solution like ViLOR is in the mix, then the Kula is a good fit, though a more radical solution would be Kula panels at the regional centres (if they have any) with multiple regions sharing a Kahuna 9600 or similar (there's no reason to dedicate a mixer-per-region now if you can accommodate enough inputs and outputs and ME-bank/DME requirements for multiple regions in a single crate, other than 'eggs in baskets' arguments)
Incidentally I found out that Birmingham replaced their Aston CG with CasparCG. Will other regions follow suit or is it a case of if it still works (and reads floppies) the astons are staying?
Yes - I think that has been widely regarded as a good solution, but with the impending decision about ER upgrades, rolling out new gear into lots of regions has been paused (wouldn't be good to roll out CasparCG everywhere, then replace it 12 months later)