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Double Helpings Of Custard: The Digbeth Mixed-Use Scheme Just Got Bigger


Birmingham’s 45-acre Custard Factory development in Digbeth is to be even larger than originally planned.

Oval consulted planners in December 2019 about a 3.76M SF mixed development on the site at High Street Deritend. These have now been replaced by plans for 4.15M SF.

However, elements of the scheme could come unstuck if agreement cannot be reached with local transport authorities on land required for a new Midlands Rail Hub.

Oval Real Estate has applied for hybrid planning permission for the development, which will take 15 years to complete and involve the redevelopment of 67 plots.

The proposal goes before Birmingham planners on 29 April.

The scheme envisages 203K SF of retail, restaurants and takeaways, and 1.9M SF of offices, along with 1,850 residential units, 350 hotel rooms, education, leisure and community facilities, and 700 to 850 student bed spaces.

The first phase includes Wild Works, providing 139K SF of workspace; 40 living units at the Custard Factory, and 35K SF of additional workspace on the roof of the Custard Factory. The remaining seven phases will take 15 years to complete. If fully realised, the project will be operational by 2035.

However, the future of part of the scheme depends on unresolved discussions about the Midlands Rail Hub proposals. The hub, intended to allow massive expansion of intra-regional transport links, is a major priority for local transport authorities. The UK government has allocated £20M toward the hub’s development.

Several new blocks situated close to Bordesley Viaduct could be at risk. “Should Bordesley Viaduct require widening on the north side, it is clear that there may be some conflict with the plots identified for development by Oval … any such development within the arches may pose construction and delivery challenges for Midlands Rail Hub,” a report to Birmingham city councillors said.

Midlands Connect would not wish to see the Oval land be developed, only for elements of the land to be subject to compulsory purchase in the future, which would clearly not be in the interest of any party," the report added. "Such a scenario could clearly add considerable cost to delivery of Midlands Rail Hub which would serve to weaken the case. As such, Midlands Connect would invite the developer to consider amending the plans.”