£300m Garden Square development faces red tape wrangle

How New Garden Square will look

Plans to transform a 10-acre site on a main route into Birmingham city centre into a £300m mixed-use scheme look set to be deferred by planners until developer contribution issues can be resolved.

U+I, the mixed-use property regeneration specialist, and Calthorpe Estates plan to redevelop the outdated commercial site bounded by Hagley Road, Duchess Road and Beaufort Road.

The proposals, dubbed New Garden Square, propose the demolition of all structures and buildings on the site, except those with listed status or with directly attached extensions.

The scheme is due for discussion at tomorrow’s (Thursday) Birmingham planning committee.

The new commercial-led mixed-use redevelopment would provide between 41,100m² and 57,500m² of office/research and development space, between 1,000m² and 2,400m² of retail, professional and financial services, restaurants and cafes and bars, a hotel of up to 100 bedrooms (which would be in lieu of some of the office floorspace), and between 200 and 400 homes and apartments.

In addition, there would be between 800 and 900 car parking spaces in a new multi-storey car park, and other parking areas including undercrofts.

There would also be alterations to the site’s access from Hagley Road and Duchess Road to ensure new public transport plans for the main route into the city centre are not affected.

The strategic landscaping including the creation of a garden square public space within the centre of the development.

The design proposes four office buildings, two of which would be situated in the central part of the site, one fronting Hagley Road and one accessed from Duchess Road. The western part of the site would contain three new residential blocks, while the multi-storey car park would be on the eastern side of the site, again with access from Duchess Road. The buildings would range in height between six and 12 storeys.

Between 109 and 115 Hagley Road, a new entrance pavilion building would be developed within a central plaza. Spreading east and west would be a series of new landscaped garden spaces.

The applicants had initially proposed a section 106 package of £217,200, however, the city council said this had now been revised upwards to £600,000 following a reappraisal.

A report to the planning committee states: “The council’s consultant advises that this is the optimum amount that could be sustained by the development without impacting on viability.”

The reappraisal has assumed that the residential element of the scheme will be delivered as high-quality Private Rented Sector (PRS) housing, reflective of the location and the nature of the PRS market.

Planning officers have said the design and contribution are acceptable in principle, but confirmation of the section 106 contribution will be required before approval can be granted.

The £600,000 is likely to be split evenly, with £200,000 each going towards off-site affordable housing, improvements to Chamberlain Gardens park, and the maintenance of Edgbaston Reservoir.

Once confirmed, it is thought approval will be a formality.

Planning officer Stuart Morgans concludes his report to the committee by stating: “I consider that the proposals represent a high-quality development that will have transformational impact on the regeneration of a significant site on the edge of the city.”

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