£1.9bn Smithfield masterplan hits another roadblock

The £1.9bn Smithfield masterplan has hit another setback after Birmingham City Council planning officers deferred their decision again.

Concerns have been now raised in a planning meeting today (May 16) over the scheme’s open spaces and the connectivity currently proposed.

Objections from Historic England and pending changes to fire safety regulations meant developer Lendlease revised plans, that were submitted at the end of January.

The revamp of the 17-hectare site has faced setbacks due to its proposed market space, which has now been moved to “avoid disturbance of buried archaeology”.

The Markets were previously located above the buried historic Moat and Manor House site but will now be moved north to avoid the archaeology and split into two buildings: The Indoor Market consisting of Fish and Meat; Dining Hall; restaurant and event spaces and the Open and Rag Market.

Festival Square has been renamed Manor Square and will be on the Moat and Manor House site to “celebrate the importance of the site as the Birthplace of the City”. Manor Square will host events and festivals for 6,500 to 7,000 people.

Cllr Martin Brooks, chair of the planning committee, was in support of Manor Square plans for both “large-scale events up to several thousand” and as a “day-to-day space” for leisure use as well.

Brooks was however concerned about the proposed Smithfield Park, saying that he would like to see Lendlease look at of the connectivity of the public spaces.

Southside BID had raised concerns that the square may only be able to “house small-scale events.”

Cllr Gareth Moore called for the application to be revised again to ensure that the square is the “large scale, high capacity event space as was originally intended.”

Planning officers however said that “there is no planning policy requirement for the square to be of a minimum size or hold any particular events” and that its estimated capacity is not “insubstantial.”

All residential buildings have been re-designed to include an additional staircase that is accessible to all residents in line with the pending changes to fire safety legislation requiring a second staircase in residential buildings over 18m.

Subject to a legal agreement there would be a 10.87% affordable housing provision across the masterplan, rising to 20% if grant funding is secured.

Following the relocation of the public square, a redesign has also occurred for a commercial building. The height of the building has increased by one storey which increases the total office space within the building as well as the addition of a Manor Square-facing terrace.

Culture and music facilities will be located within one building at the corner of Manor Square, with leisure facilities set to be split into two new builds to the adjacent corner.

Around 860 construction jobs are expected to be created per year during the demolition and construction stage, which is anticipated to take place over 11 years.

Up to 1,736 jobs across the proposed commercial floorspace will be created once the development is complete.

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