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Smithfield: Rejuvenating the historic heart of Birmingham

Updated: Jan 30

Prior + Partners, working closely with their client – a joint venture between Lendlease and Birmingham City Council - have submitted plans for Smithfield Birmingham, following an extensive consultation process. The £1.9b development represents a once in a generation opportunity to reshape Birmingham’s city centre, providing an estimated 8,000 local jobs, amenities and around 3,000 much needed new homes, as well as opening up wider opportunities for regeneration.

Festival Square is the heart of the public realm at Smithfield

Since 2018, Prior + Partners have acted as lead consultant and masterplanner for the 17-hectare scheme, which sits in an area in Birmingham city centre known for its rich trading history, and includes the home of the city’s 200 year old Bull Ring Markets and the former Wholesale Markets site.

Prior + Partners vision for Smithfield

View from the vacant Wholesale Market site today, looking towards St Martin’s Church

Continuing this legacy, the development will centre a new destination market experience to rival the best that Europe offers, establishing Smithfield Birmingham as a prestigious globally-recognised market district, celebrating Birmingham’s roots as the ‘city of a thousand trades’, with the offer reflecting the city’s distinctive and diverse culture.

Illustrative masterplan

The vibrant retail markets will sit alongside new cultural and leisure attractions, as well as a minimum of one million square metres of new high-quality office space at an enviable location close to Birmingham New Street and Moor Street stations.

Market Square is the entrance into the Smithfield site as well as to the market from the Bullring

Here, facilities will support start-ups, small businesses and entrepreneurs, giving local organisations the opportunity to expand into flexible workspaces designed for the modern, post-Covid workplace, and attract businesses to the city from the UK and across the globe.

Integrated public transport, an enviable location close to Birmingham New Street station, along with easy access to the upcoming HS2 rail link, will make Smithfield one of the most well-connected areas to conduct business in the country.

Upper Smithfield Walk features new homes and leisure facilities

The plans submitted for approval also include a brand-new events and gathering space, Festival Square, that will play host to cultural events for thousands of people.

The Dining Hall anchors the Market at heart of Smithfield, and overlooks Festival Square and a view back to St Martin’s Church

It sits within a wider network of public squares, boulevards and lanes, with fountains and active play for children helping to unlock Smithfield as a much loved destination for all.

Festival Square Social Steps provide a verdant oasis and a view over the whole Square

If approved, 600 sustainable and modern residences will be delivered in a green setting as part of the first phase of work – with around 3000 planned for the whole site over the coming years, including affordable homes, all supported by community facilities. Smithfield Park will provide residents with access to nature on their doorstep and provide visitors with a new green space to unwind and keep fit.

Smithfield Park is the central green space of the Masterplan, lying at the heart of the residential quarter, Smithfield Gardens

Meanwhile expanded cycling routes and improved eco-friendly transport options will be complemented by new and improved green walking routes, connecting the centre of Smithfield towards the Bullring, central Birmingham and Highgate Park.

(Left) Cheapside is a quieter, family orientated area; (Right) Barford Yard

Building on the city’s already established assets, Smithfield Birmingham will be a sustainable, green and inclusive place that places people at the heart of a zero-carbon development. This vision will be secured through the delivery of a series of big moves and underpinned by the design team’s development principles.

Prior + Partners Axonometric of Smithfield, Birmingham

In bringing together these plans and the hybrid planning application, Prior + Partners have led an array of exceptional designers including James Corner Field Operations who are designing the significant new public realm and landscape. The new market, which forms the centrepiece of the development, has been designed by David Kohn Architects in collaboration with local-run artist multiverse, Eastside Projects and landscape architects Todd Longstaffe-Gowan.

(Left) Moat Lane forms a new view to the Church and the Rotunda; (Right(

Other Phase 1 buildings have been crafted by the wider design team comprising a number of Birmingham and UK-based architects, including dRMM, Intervention Architecture, Haworth Tompkins, Minesh Patel Architects RCKa, as well as landscape architect Fira. Rounding up the team are planners at DP9, accessibility and inclusive design consultant at Lord Consultants, transport and civil engineering colleagues at WSP, and EIA, energy and sustainability specialists at Ramboll.

The scheme is a joint venture between Birmingham City Council and Lendlease, an international real estate and investment group with core expertise in shaping cities and creating strong and connected communities. And the plans submitted for approval have been shaped by local people from across Birmingham’s diverse communities; including local residents, businesses and community organisations, market traders, and a dedicated youth panel.

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