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DIGBETH: Five things you need to know about the redevelopment

DIGBETH: Five things you need to know about the redevelopment

Image: LDRS

Digbeth could be transformed over the next 15 years, it has been revealed, after plans were submitted for the complete overhaul of the area.

Apartments, nightclubs, student accommodation and even a ‘sky park’ have been included in the plans, which are set to go before the council’s planning committee next week (Thursday, April 29).

But what exactly would the proposals entail, and what do they mean for the area? Here, we pick out five headlines from the news.

15-year timetable

While 2035 may seem like a long way off, developers are targeting this as the date for completing the entire scheme.

If granted planning permission then works are set to begin later this year, with papers from the proposals noting:  “The assessment of the proposed development has been assessed as a ‘whole’, which would commence in 2021 and, if fully realised, be fully operational by 2035.”

59 buildings to be demolished

The developer’s proposals cover most of Digbeth – and with 2,000 homes, a nightclub, restaurants and bars to fit in, to name just a few, it is expected that several local buildings will need to be demolished.

“It is proposed that the new floorspace would replace the demolition of over 59 buildings within the site,” papers note.

All of the nationally listed buildings on the site are set to be retained, with some alterations taking place, while the vast majority of locally listed buildings are also set to stay.

However, several buildings from along Floodgate Street, Liverpool Street, Heath Mill Lane and many others look set to go, with several of those targeted for demolition currently housing businesses, such as the Teamworks Carting building.

Sky Park

Duddeston Viaduct, the long-disused Victorian viaduct in the city centre, also looks set to get a major facelift if the proposals go ahead.

Planners say that the transformation of the viaduct has been one of the driving factors of the development, with proposals similar to those carried out on New York’s High Line, a little-known, long-abandoned elevated railroad that has been transformed into a public park and playground.

“The reinvention of the Viaduct as a park for public access has been a driving factor from the first inception of the current proposals,” papers note.

“There is an opportunity to create a vibrant public space that would be of benefit not only to the existing business and residential community within the application site, but to the rest of the City Centre, wider Birmingham and the West Midlands, and the appetite for the proposed sky park are highlighted within the HS2 Curzon Masterplan.

“The current hybrid application provides a real opportunity to realise this aspiration and its associated benefits, and it would create a real destination in this part of the City and a unique feature within the City.

“It would include a publicly accessible raised pedestrian walkway with a mixture of hard and soft landscape, street furniture, play equipment and viewing platforms.”

New jobs

If passed, the redevelopment of Digbeth would become one of the largest projects ever undertaken in the city, with new homes, shops, restaurants, cafés and leisure facilities all to be built in the area.

And developers Oval Real Estate say that this explosion of activity will see thousands of jobs for local Brummies, with 16,000 new jobs expected to be created by the project.

Speaking on the project James Craig, founder of Oval, said: “We have been discussing these plans with the city council and a wide range of local stakeholders for a number of years and we are excited to be nearing the next stage of our plans.

“This news will also be reassuring to local businesses who have suffered over the past year due to restrictions. We hope it will give them confidence and reassurance that Digbeth is back in business.”

Custard Factory Revamp

One of the headline proposals from the redevelopment scheme are plans to upgrade the famous Custard Factory, one of Digbeth’s most iconic buildings.

The only part of the application which currently has full details, the initial proposals are for a three-storey rooftop extension to the Custard Factory, which planners say will be placed at the ‘centre’ of the new development. Plans also include a ‘Custard Factory Living’ building which would see a seven-storey, 40-apartment residential building constructed next door.

Words: Tom Dare, Local Democracy Reporter


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