Public drop-in to launch over Birmingham masterplan

A public drop-in for proposals to regenerate Digbeth and the relocation of BBC Midlands – including metro extensions and a public square –  will be launched next week, according to a leading property developer.

A CGI image of the new BBC Midlands building. Photo: Stoford
A CGI image of the new BBC Midlands building. Photo: Stoford

Stoford, in partnership with Birmingham-based Glenn Howells Architects, will hold a public consultation next Wednesday afternoon at the Tea Works, New Canal Street, for local people to query the master plan.

New images of the BBC Midlands building and the wider Digbeth masterplan were unveiled at a public webinar on Tuesday.

Based at The Mailbox, BBC Midlands will relocate to a new purpose-built broadcast centre at the former Typhoo Factory site in the city.

As the anchor tenant, the BBC will be a catalyst for wider regeneration of Digbeth, and is expected to attract additional investment and production to the Midlands. The overall cost for the development has been reported to be £200 million.

The redevelopment will cover Typhoo Wharf, the former Typhoo Tea building, and the adjoining canal basin where tea used to be brought to Birmingham from London.

The proposals suggest an extended metro line from Bull Street, down Carrs Lane, and into the HS2 site are also being considered. The line will enter Digbeth via New Canal Street and connect onto the Eastside metro extension.

The metro line is said to compliment one of Birmingham’s first net zero buildings, with 100 cycle stands, an array of new cycle lanes, and specific parking for BBC broadcast vans.

The Digbeth master plan is expected to be delivered in stages. A planning application for the part-demolition and refurbishment of the historic Typhoo Tea building will be submitted to Birmingham city council in September.

Part of the application includes a new public route to the BBC Midlands hub; a public square; and a temporary pedestrian route to link HS2 Curzon Street station.

A wider master plan for the rest of Digbeth will be submitted in late 2022. It will include the demolition of some buildings; new commercial and residential buildings; and public realm improvements.

Building work will take place in 2023 subject to planning permission.

CGI images for the revamped Benacre Drive, close to the BBC Midlands hub, will host a similar function to Boxpark in Shoreditch, London, with commercial and retail units.

Speaking at the public webinar, Chris Batham-Read ESC, director of Engineering Services Consultancy, said: “The most significant word I think there’s been mentioned so far is sustainability. And sustainability certainly is very much at the heart of this project.

The most significant aspect of sustainability here is that we are reusing an existing building. Reuse of buildings is very important, as it saves an enormous amount of embodied carbon. It gives us an opportunity to design using local materials that have been used as part of the original building.

“We’ve got to think about the renewed life of the building, and hopefully there will be a another 60 years worth of use from the work that we’re doing.”

Stuart Thomas, head of BBC Midlands, says: “This is the perfect home for the BBC in the Midlands, a building steeped in history now waiting to come back to life in one of the most up and coming, creative districts in the country.

“The re-imagined former Typhoo Factory will be far more visible for our audience, in a greener, more accessible and more flexible space. We can’t wait to take up residence there, continuing to build on what we do best making the news and programmes in the Midlands that we all really care about.”

Andy Street, the mayor of the West Midlands, says: “I am incredibly excited that the BBC is starting a new chapter in the West Midlands with this major investment to create their greenest and most modern facility ever – right here in the heart of our region.

“Not only will their phenomenal new home at the former Typhoo Factory act as the catalyst for the wider regeneration of Digbeth to become a global creative quarter, but it will also act as a magnet for young creative talent right across the West Midlands and the wider UK.

“I am grateful to the director general Tim Davie for showing such confidence in the West Midlands, and for working with us to bring our ‘Memorandum Of Understanding’ to life.”

Ian Ward, leader of Birmingham city council, says: “I’m absolutely delighted at this huge vote of confidence in Birmingham. As the BBC clearly recognises, this is a city on the up and our creative industries will have a big role to play in this golden decade of opportunity for Birmingham.

“The 2022 Commonwealth Games has showcased Birmingham’s youth, energy and creativity. Our city is full of untapped potential and the BBC’s investment will help it to flourish and grow, creating new jobs, skills and opportunities for our citizens.”

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