Birmingham has this week launched a £500m plan to regenerate a 14 hectare site at the heart of its city centre. It represents a once in a generation opportunity to deliver a unique destination for the city, which builds on the area‘s rich heritage and focus for retail markets.
Based in the city centre, the project will be known as Birmingham Smithfield. It will be able to capitalise on its location next to the prime shopping area – which attracts over 40m visitors a year, spending £2bn on the local economy – and New Street Station, which is used by more than 51m people a year.
The development will be set within a vibrant new area, featuring high quality pedestrian and cycle routes, and a series of new public spaces. This includes Market Square, the focal point for the site, around which the markets and family leisure quarter will be located.
The 14 hectare site is expected to create over 100,000 sq metres of new floorspace, 1,000 new homes and 3,000 new jobs, adding £470m GVA to the local economy and attracting millions more visitors to Birmingham.
The city‘s Midland Metro tram system will be integrated into the site and bring Birmingham Smithfield within minutes of the proposed high speed rail (HS2) terminus at Curzon nearby. Further enhancements to public transport facilities for the site will also be delivered.
Sir Albert Bore, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said:
“Birmingham has an impressive track record of investing in its future. The £600m redevelopment of New Street rail station will complete this year, while the transformation of its retail scene – which includes the Mailbox, Grand Central, Selfridges and John Lewis – will drastically improve what the city has to offer. Birmingham Smithfield presents a once in a generation opportunity to build upon our recent successes and deliver a truly unique asset for the city. Our plans for Birmingham Smithfield will create a vibrant new destination – adding to the city‘s reputation as a top visitor destination and a great place to live and do business.”
The area‘s heritage, dating back to 1166 with its focus on markets, will be central to its future transformation, with the name Birmingham Smithfield reflecting its unique history. While the area‘s wholesale markets will move, its retail markets will be improved to encourage more niche and specialist traders to locate alongside the famous brands on offer at the nearby Bullring retail centre.
Designed as a family quarter, Birmingham Smithfield is expected to further establish the city‘s reputation as an increasingly popular visitor destination. Birmingham – named by Rough Guides as one of the top ten global locations to visit this year – attracted a record 34m visitors from outside the region in 2013, while work to target tourists in markets such as China and India has increased the number of international trips to the city by 32%.