Major new leisure attraction planned for Birmingham venue

The owner of Alton Towers is preparing to bring a major Lego-themed attraction to Birmingham’s Barclaycard Arena.

Merlin Entertainment is planning to open a 5,470m² Lego Discovery Centre by utilising spare capacity at the arena.

The facility would be the second of its kind in the UK after a similar venue in Manchester. It is not a theme park in the same way that Legoland in Windsor is; it would include a 4D cinema, rides, interactive Lego-themed attractions, a small café and associated retail.

The investment is said to be significant, although no figure has been placed on it. A report to Birmingham’s planning committee on February 16 states that the facility would do much to enhance the city’s tourism offer and make the arena even more of a key visitor destination.

The discovery centre would be split over three floors within the arena. The main attraction would be located within the existing basement car park, while above this and adjacent to the canal, a redundant service deck would be converted to create ancillary office and staff space.

Entrance for proposed new Lego Discovery Centre The main entrance to the proposed attraction would be through a vacant retail unit (left) located on the south west elevation of the arena which was created as part of the 2013 refurbishment works to the building.

To accommodate the main attraction area within the basement, 140 parking spaces would be removed from the arena’s overall parking provision of 1,995 spaces. The car parking spaces are currently located beneath a concrete deck which is open sided so the application proposes to enclose this space.

The visitor attraction is aimed at families and has proposed opening hours of 10am-6pm daily, with the last entrance to the attraction being 4pm to allow for a two-hour visitor experience. It is projected that the Lego Discovery Centre would attract between 300-2,560 visitors a day.

The centre is likely to employ around 40-50 employees, with approximately a quarter being part-time positions. Temporary seasonal staff are also likely to be required.

The proposals have been recommended for approval, although residents living opposite the arena had objected because they said it would encourage children to congregate outside their homes.

However, planning officers said that as the entrance to the attraction was on the opposite side of the canal to the nearest residential occupiers this was unlikely to be a problem.

The application comes swiftly after the submission of plans by Merlin for a new visitor attraction at the arena’s sister site at the NEC.

This proposal would feature an adventure playground with a skydiving experience and is intended to enhance the visitor offer at the site, which has benefited from the opening of the Resorts World Birmingham complex.