The site played a central role in the hugely successful Commonwealth Games last summer, during which it hosted several games venues as well as the Smithfield Festival. Now this 17-hectare development in the historic heart of the city is set to transform Birmingham and create major economic opportunities, including an estimated 8,000 new jobs.
This once in a generation opportunity has the potential to reshape Birmingham’s city centre. A market has operated on the site for over 200 years and, continuing this long history, the new scheme will provide a home for the city’s historic Bull Ring markets, which will celebrate Birmingham’s roots as the ‘city of a thousand trades’. This will form an iconic new centrepiece for the city centre and include a rooftop garden, dining hall and new market square.
The plans reveal ambitions to make Birmingham a new business hub where organisations can grow their networks and ideas. The masterplan creates a workspace campus of over one million square feet, featuring a range of workplaces designed to foster partnerships and knowledge-sharing, from Grade-A workspace, to flexible creative space and makerspace.
Designed with health and wellbeing at its heart for a post-Covid, low-carbon future, the proposals will nurture a diverse range of companies and individuals. This will ensure that Birmingham continues to grow and retain its best talent and ideas, as well as attract new businesses to the city from across the UK and all over the globe. Integrated public transport, an enviable location close to Birmingham New Street station, along with easy access to the upcoming HS2 rail link, will make Smithfield one of the most well-connected areas to conduct business in the country.
Taking advantage of the site’s location next to the artistic and cultural district of Digbeth, the plans submitted for approval also include a brand-new events and gathering space, Festival Square, that will play host to cultural events for thousands of people. Designed by James Corner Field Operations, the world-leading landscape architects responsible for the much-loved High Line in New York, the new square will be a space where musical and artistic communities come together to put on live performances for all ages.
If approved, 600 sustainable and modern homes will be delivered in a green setting as part of the first phase of work – with around 3,000 homes planned for the whole site over the coming years, including affordable homes, all supported by modern community facilities.
Smithfield Gardens will provide residents with access to nature on their doorstep and provide visitors with a new green space to unwind and keep fit. Meanwhile expanded cycling routes and improved eco-friendly transport options will be complemented by new and improved green walking routes, connecting the centre of Smithfield towards the Bullring, central Birmingham and Highgate Park. This will stitch the development into the fabric of the city, enhancing the existing offer while reinvigorating the centre of Birmingham.
The scheme is a joint venture between Birmingham City Council and Lendlease, an international real estate and investment group with core expertise in shaping cities and creating strong and connected communities. And the plans submitted for approval have been shaped by local people from across Birmingham’s diverse communities; including local residents, businesses and community organisations, market traders, and a dedicated youth panel.
Alongside masterplanners Prior+Partners and David Kohn Architects who are designing the new market, Lendlease’s design team includes a host of international and local architects and landscape architects, including dRMM, Intervention Architecture, Haworth Tompkins Architects, Minesh Patel Architects and RCKa with James Corner Field Operations designing the significant new public realm and landscape.
Birmingham residents can view the proposals that have been submitted to the council at www.smithfieldbirmingham.co.uk
Colin Murphy, Project Lead at Lendlease, said: “Throughout the last year we’ve been part of a city-wide conversation with people who live and work in Birmingham, inviting comment on our plans from all corners of the city including those who are at the heart of today’s Bull Ring Markets. And the submission of our planning application is a pivotal moment for a £1.9bn development that will provide thousands of new jobs and homes.
“This really is an exceptional opportunity to create and celebrate the next chapter in Birmingham’s transformation as an international city. Smithfield will provide the opportunity to create a destination market experience to rival Europe's best; as well as an international office hub with access to outstanding transport links.”
A decision on the planning submission is expected in early 2023. If approved, construction on site would begin later in the year.