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Birmingham Snow Hill: Council Tiptoes Toward Major New Development Opportunity

Snow Hill's uninspiring entrance tunnel

The long-awaited regeneration of Snow Hill station, which will open the door to major development opportunities, is about to move forward.

The strategic outline business case for the Snow Hill station regeneration is due before Birmingham City Council’s cabinet on 15 December, the city council’s forward plan reveals.

A report by the council’s acting director of inclusive growth, Ian MacLeod, “presents the details of an option appraisal, and a development proposition centred on Snow Hill Station,” the forward plan says.

“The report seeks approval for entry into a collaboration agreement with Network Rail and the development of the proposals to a full business case.”

The Livery Street multi-storey car park, difficult to access and unmodernised, is built over part of the station concourse, with the remainder of the plot exposed. Both suggest the prospect of development over the platforms and approaching tracks.

The redevelopment of bleak and functional Snow Hill railway station has long been a council objective. Despite its growing role as a transport hub, the economic potential of the site has been limited. The creation of something similar to the £750M New Street Station rebuild that resulted in the Grand Central retail scheme and a letting to department store John Lewis was originally envisaged. That, too, was a joint venture with Network Rail.

Today, projects premised on retail development face a tougher viability challenge, whilst John Lewis has announced the closure of the 247K SF department store.

The Snow Hill regeneration will build on Midland Connect’s ambitions to increase traffic through Snow Hill. Its July 2019 strategy document envisaged reinstating the fourth platform at Snow Hill station to allow additional services can call at and terminate at the station, opening up space at Moor Street. The indicative cost was £20M to £30M.

Potential development sites over the tracks at Snow Hill

The prospect of large-scale regeneration was part of the 2015 Snow Hill masterplan.

"Snow Hill Station will be transformed, creating an attractive high-quality public transport interchange at the heart of the district," the 2015 plan said. "The improvement of the station will unlock development opportunities and facilitate the provision of new routes through and around the station. The approach will be modelled on the highly successful Birmingham Gateway project which is transforming Birmingham New Street Station.” 

Plans for a new £1.5M entrance linking Snow Street's rail and metro lines were revealed last year.

The neighbouring sites have been redeveloped for offices since 2015. Ballymore’s 17-year regeneration of the neighbouring site reached a milestone earlier this year with the completion of the 420K SF Three Snowhill. BT agreed a 283K SF pre-let on a 20-year lease.