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Birmingham Smithfield: Another 5 Years Of Patience Required, But Things Are Definitely Moving

Waiting in central Birmingham

The first quarter of 2022 will mark a milestone in Lendlease’s £1.8B redevelopment of the 41-acre Smithfield site — but there could be a long wait for some parts of the scheme, which are unlikely to see action until 2027.

The disclosure, in a presentation to councillors, adds detail to earlier hints that the project would be phased.

The official presentation to a Birmingham City Council committee suggests that Lendlease is seeking an architect to deliver early phases, with the masterplan fixed by Q1 2022. The report describes this as an “early contractual milestone.”

Public sector funding from the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership is also expected to move forward in Q1 2022, along with a business case and funding legal agreements.

However, the report said the existing Bull Ring Markets, which occupy a key portion of the site, could be in operation for some time to come. The document points to a consultation with market traders to “renegotiate lease terms to facilitate vacant possession in 2027.”

In the meantime the site will be handed over to the Commonwealth Games organising committee for much of 2022 to allow beach volleyball and 3x3 basketball tournaments to take place.

Lendlease was chosen as preferred developer for the former wholesale markets site in December 2018. Its plans for the 41-acre site include 2,000 new homes around a rethought market district. The formal agreement between Lendlease and Birmingham City Council to develop the site was agreed in June 2021. The scheme provides for 2,900 new homes, 1.4M SF of new office and leisure space, and a new 265K SF market.

The development agreement allows different phases of the Smithfield development to be owned or funded by different third parties, but a partner owning more than 50% would need council agreement.

In return the council grants a 250-year lease, also phase by phase. The council also agrees “not to open or permit a competing market of equivalent scale to the market in the first phase development, on any of the Council’s currently owned land” or within a wider area.

Funding of £131M will be received from the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership’s enterprise zone fund to help meet infrastructure and staff costs of drawing up a business plan including site assembly.