Housing, offices and 16,000 new jobs – Oval outlines its masterplan for Birmingham city district

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More than 16,000 new jobs could be created in Birmingham as plans are showcased for a massive regeneration project in the city’s Digbeth district.

Oval Real Estate has unveiled its major, long-term vision for the famous quarter with proposals to revitalise 42 acres of land including the historic Custard Factory complex.

Among the plans are new rooftop office space, residential accommodation and a cluster of new buildings containing workshops and a restaurant.

Long-term, there could be nearly 2,000 new homes, more than two million sq ft of commercial accommodation and a landmark regeneration of the Duddeston Viaduct to create a sky garden.

Oval launched a public consultation into the scheme in November but is now outlining firm details of the project’s future aspirations for the first time.

Among the designs is a new building called ‘Wild Works’ containing offices and other commercial space

Phase one would see the Custard Factory expanded with a new rooftop extension which will provide three additional storeys to create a garden and open-plan offices with views across the city.

‘Custard Factory Living’ will be developed next to the iconic building and be the first residential accommodation to be delivered as part of the masterplan, containing 40 units and ground floor retail and café space along the River Rea.

It will be connected to the Custard Factory by a new bridge.

Further commercial accommodation will come to the shape of ‘Wild Works’, a cluster of four new buildings containing offices, communal incubator work space and a restaurant.

The complex will rise up to eight storeys and be aimed at attracting the city’s creative professionals.

This first phase has been designed by architects and urban masterplanners at Birmingham practices Glenn Howells and BPN and London-based Studio Egret West with planning consultancy from Turley.

Oval said its proposals had been carefully designed to conserve the area’s rich industrial heritage but also enhance public realm and create dynamic new buildings.

The sites earmarked for regeneration will benefit from the new nearby Midland Metro extension travelling directly to the HS2 station and other key business districts in the city such as Colmore Row and the Jewellery Quarter.

London-based Oval acquired the Custard Factory, Fazeley Studios and dozens of other buildings in Digbeth in 2017.

It has been refurbishing some of its portfolio over the past three years and has been working on these new concepts for 18 months in the hope of winning backing from city council planning chiefs.

Other elements tabled for future phases include exposing the River Rea, and work along the canal and to “reactivate” Fazeley Street and Floodgate Street while Brunel’s Duddeston Viaduct could be turned into a publicly accessible sky park.

The overall vision includes up to 2.2 million sq ft of commercial space, 1,850 new homes, shops, restaurants, cafés and additional leisure facilities which Oval estimates will create more than 16,000 jobs.

Revamping Floodgate Street is included in Oval's long-term masterplan
Revamping Floodgate Street is included in Oval’s long-term masterplan

Co-founder James Craig said: “Oval’s long term vision is to continue the revitalisation of this incredible post-industrial neighbourhood; growing an independent, individual and industrious community for Birmingham.

“In doing so, we hope to develop exemplar buildings that embrace the history of the area as well as the potential of the future, offering new models of working and living.

“Digbeth is a characterful, playful and accommodating community for all.

“We want to link exceptional public realm, arts and cultural spaces across the estate with nearby infrastructure and connectivity to and from the city centre.”

Head of development Steve Sanders added: “We are incredibly excited about the future of Digbeth and delighted with the culmination of the hard work from our consultant team to present such a carefully considered development proposal.

“We have intentionally taken our time over three years to prepare this application, ensuring we respect the character of the area and occupants that make Digbeth the place it is today while responding to the needs of local stakeholders and providing the opportunity for Digbeth to flourish in the right manner.”

A planning application has been lodged with Birmingham City Council and Oval said it was expecting a decision by the end of the summer.

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