Mammoth city centre scheme will include 3,000 homes, new parks and business space

Lendlease’s £1.9bn Birmingham Smithfield scheme has been given the green light  after a meeting of city planners earlier today.

The 4,000-home city centre scheme was poised to get the nod last month but a decision was deferred after councillors and campaigners said a park and public square were too small.

Amended plans have now increased the size of the proposed Smithfield Park by 23% and provided more detail on how it could connect to other public spaces in the scheme.

Birmingham Smithfield 2023

Aerial view of the Smithfield plans in central Birmingham

A new report by planning officers also said another park, Manor Square, was of a sufficient size to accommodate “large scale” public events of up to 6,900 people.

Although the report said the public spaces still fell below planning policy requirements, it said the amendments had “addressed the committee’s previous concerns with the indicative proposed scheme”.

Officers recommended the revised plans for approval ahead of the local authority’s planning committee earlier today (13 June).

The job has been hit by a string of setbacks including an intervention from Historic England, which said initial plans submitted in 2022 would harm Birmingham’s historic cityscape and “disturb significant medieval remains”.

>> See also: ‘I’m at a loss about what to make of it all’ – Will Lendlease disappear from UK construction, and what would that say about the state of the sector?

This resulted in a one-year delay and a series of design changes including the addition of second staircases, increases of building heights by as much as 10m and 500 extra homes.

A number of high-profile architects are working on the plans, located next to the city’s Bull Ring shopping centre, including Stirling Prize-winner Haworth Tompkins as well as dRMM, Intervention Architecture, Minesh Patel Architects and RCKa with James Corner Field Operations designing the public realm and landscape.

Also on the project team is Aecom as QS, DP9 as planning consultant, Turner & Townsend as principal advisor to Lendlease, structural engineer Arup, transport and civil engineer WSP and heritage consultant Montagu Evans.

The scheme will include more than 3,000 homes as well as green space, cultural and leisure facilities and business premises.

Last month, Lendlease said it was selling its UK construction business and not taking on an new developments work in the UK, while cutting its stake in existing schemes to a maximum 25%

A spokesperson said: “Development projects, historically funded from Lendlease’s balance sheet, will now be brought forward though partnerships with other investors. So, we will increasingly partner with third party investors at an asset, project or platform level to reduce our reliance on Lendlease’s balance sheet.”

Its other UK developments include a residential scheme at Elephant Park in south London and a mixed-use scheme in Deptford, south-east London.