1,300-home Birmingham city centre mixed use scheme approved

Plans for a 1,300-home 36-storey mixed use scheme in Birmingham city centre have been approved, despite concerns about the potential harm to nearby heritage assets and the provision of affordable housing that is less than a third of local policy requirements.

A visualisation of the Martineau Galleries scheme in central Birmingham. Image by Hammerson
A visualisation of the Martineau Galleries scheme in central Birmingham. Image by Hammerson

Birmingham City Council’s planning committee yesterday approved the outline plans by developer Hammerson, which will see the demolition of existing buildings and their replacement with up to 23,700 square metres of new development.

The application for the 5.6 hectare site, near to the city’s proposed High Speed Two Curzon Station, proposes up to 1,300 homes, up to 130,000 square metres of offices, a hotel, and up to 27,500 square metres of retail and leisure space. Some of the new buildings would rise up to 36 storeys high.

An officer’s report presented to the committee said that there are 108 listed buildings within 500m of the proposed Martineau Galleries project, including the grade I listed St Philip’s Cathedral.

Officers judged that the proposals conflict with a policy in the Birmingham Development Plan related to the protection of heritage assets.

However, it concluded: "In this case it is considered that the redevelopment of this strategically important city centre site, in accordance with the growth policies highlighted above would, due to the resulting public benefits outweigh the conflict with the less than substantial harm to heritage assets."

Benefits of the scheme, the report said, include the "creation of a distinctive place with its high quality public realm and connectivity to other parts of the city, the delivery of housing to meet the city’s identified needs, providing office floorspace and supporting job creation in the long term".

Following a financial viability assessment, the authority accepted that the scheme can only provide 10 per cent affordable housing, against a policy target of 35 per cent.

The scheme will involve the demolition of the 1960s Square Shopping Centre, designed by modernist architect Sir Frederick Gibberd, which was given immunity from listing last year.

In December, plans for a 51-storey, 670-home tower in Birmingham city centre were approved after Birmingham Airport agreed to increase the height at which planes circle in order to enable construction work.

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