Hunt is on to find developer to build giant new quarter
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