Hunt is on to find de­vel­oper to build gi­ant new quar­ter

Birmingham Post - - NEWS - Neil Elkes Lo­cal Govern­ment Cor­re­spon­dent

THE search is on to find a de­vel­op­ment part­ner to over­see the £1 bil­lion trans­for­ma­tion of Birm­ing­ham’s Whole­sale Mar­kets site.

City coun­cil bosses this week launched the bid­ding process which will find a de­vel­oper to de­liver its Birm­ing­ham Smith­field Mas­ter­plan to cre­ate a gi­gan­tic res­i­den­tial and busi­ness quar­ter south of the city cen­tre.

The 34-acre plot has been ear­marked for new shops and mar­kets, leisure fa­cil­i­ties, restau­rants, ho­tels, a pub­lic square and 2,000 homes.

Es­ti­mates sug­gest is will also cre­ate 3,000 new jobs, add £470 mil­lion to the econ­omy, and at­tract mil­lions more vis­i­tors. It comes with a de­vel- op­ment value of more than £1 bil­lion.

The coun­cil hopes to an­nounce the suc­cess­ful com­pany to de­liver that vi­sion by the end of this year.

Mean­while, the Whole­sale Mar­kets are in the process of re­lo­cat­ing to the Hub in­dus­trial es­tate in Wit­ton.

A coun­cil re­port for Tues­day’s coun­cil cabi­net meet­ing said: “Due to the scale of the re­de­vel­op­ment, the coun­cil will need to part­ner with an in­vestor/de­vel­oper to bring ap­pro­pri­ate fi­nances and ex­per­tise to de­liver the re­de­vel­op­ment.

“Key to the suc­cess of the re­de­vel­op­ment will be the cre­ation of a new des­ti­na­tion with high-qual­ity ur­ban de­sign and crit­i­cal mass to pro­vide a high-qual­ity en­vi­ron­ment with the abil­ity to at­tract peo­ple/vis­i­tors, oc­cu­piers, in­vestors and fun­ders.

“As a new and as yet un­proven des­ti­na­tion, get­ting the con­nec­tiv­ity and pub­lic realm right will be key to chang­ing cur­rent mar­ket per­cep­tions. To achieve this, the coun­cil needs a de­liv­ery part­ner with the right ex­pe­ri­ence, am­bi­tion and fi­nan­cial ca­pac­ity to work in part­ner­ship with the city to re­alise the bold and am­bi­tious plans for the site.”

Ear­lier this year the coun­cil ap­pointed con­sul­tants Cush­man and Wake­field to ad­vise on the next steps and over­see the search for the de­vel­op­ment part­ner. The de­vel­op­ment con­tract will run for 15 years from 2019.

It is hoped the re­gen­er­a­tion of the site will act as a cat­a­lyst for the trans­for­ma­tion of Birm­ing­ham’s wider ‘South­ern Gate­way’. Build­ings in the quar­ter will also be de­signed to of­fer zero car­bon emis­sions.

AMA­JOR of­fice de­vel­op­ment which could house a re­lo­cated Chan­nel 4 head­quar­ters is a sign of busi­ness con­fi­dence in Birm­ing­ham, claim coun­cil­lors.

The pro­posed Axis Square de­vel­op­ment be­sides the Mail­box in Suf­folk Street Queensway, will in­clude a 23-storey tower and three other build­ings around a cen­tral square.

It will re­place the ex­ist­ing ten-storey 1970s Axis build­ing on the site. Now the out­line plans have been unan­i­mously wel­comed by the coun­cil’s plan­ning com­mit­tee.

Coun­cil­lor Peter Dou­glas Osborn (Con, We­o­ley) said: “It will be nigh on one mil­lion square feet of of­fice space. It’s a con­sid­er­able amount which should be at­trac­tive to a large me­dia com­pany that the city is try­ing to at­tract.

“This de­vel­op­ment is a huge ex­pres­sion of con­fi­dence in Birm­ing­ham.”

Cllr Osborn was re­fer­ring to the city’s bid to bring the Chan­nel 4 head­quar­ters to the city.

The de­vel­op­ment will cre­ate a new pedes­trian walk­through link­ing New Street with Broad Street and the city’s canals.

Plan­ning com­mit­tee mem­ber Cllr Barry Hen­ley (Lab, Brand­wood) added: “It in­creases the amount of of­fice space, pub­lic open space and some re­tail in nicely pro­por­tioned build­ings.”

De­vel­oper Lon­don and Con­ti­nen­tal Rail­ways (LCR) now has the green light for the whole site.

De­tailed de­signs will now be drawn up and are likely to in­clude a rooftop restau­rant.

While back­ing the plan, Cllr Fiona Wil­liams (Lab, Hodge Hill) also urged LCR to con­sider more green roofs when it sub­mits de­tailed plans for the build­ings.

The sur­round­ing area is al­ready a hot­bed of of­fice de­vel­op­ment with the new HSBC head­quar­ters be­ing built on the edge of Cen­te­nary Square and the planned Dan­dara tower de­vel­op­ment next door.

LCR de­vel­op­ment man­ager Nick Clough said: “We are de­lighted to have reached an­other ma­jor mile­stone with our de­vel­op­ment pro­pos­als. Axis Square will cre­ate a vi­brant new com­mer­cial of­fice de­vel­op­ment of up to one mil­lion square feet, with ground floor re­tail uses and a new pub­lic square, with the de­vel­op­ment vastly im­prov­ing con­nec­tiv­ity with nearby lo­ca­tions and cre­at­ing an at­trac­tive place to work, eat and shop in the heart of the evolv­ing city cen­tre.”

The scheme will be de­signed by Fletcher Priest Ar­chi­tects sup­ported by Quod as plan­ning con­sul­tants.

> An artist’s im­pres­sion of the planned Smith­field de­vel­op­ment on the Whole­sale Mar­kets site in Birm­ing­ham

> Above and be­low: Artist’s im­pres­sion of the pro­posed Axis Square de­vel­op­ment be­sides the Mail­box

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