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Retail Specialist Hammerson's Newest Scheme ... Contains Almost No Retail

Martineau Galleries at night, as envisaged by Hammerson.

Hammerson has unveilled the latest version of their plans for Birmingham's Martineau Galleries, and the retail component seems to have shrunk once again. As a result, the specialist retail REIT's latest scheme includes almost no shops, in a sign of how the retail sector is evolving.

As recently as 2006 plans for the site included 915K SF of retail floorspace, whilst the existing Square Shopping Centre on the site includes 270K SF of retail. The latest announcement by Hammerson makes no mention of retail, removing even the vague assurances of new shops which appeared earlier in the year.

The plans submitted to Birmingham City Council look to regenerate the 7.5-acre Martineau Galleries site which includes the Square Shopping Centre, Dale End car park and 1-7 Dale End. Proposals include the delivery of 1,300 new homes for rent and purchase and up to 1.4M SF of workspace that will offer opportunities for a range of businesses, as well as a new city centre hotel, restaurants and cafés.

June 2019 press reports suggesting new shops at Martineau Galleries do not appear to have been justified on the basis of this first phase application. The official development website also mentions new shops, but gives no details.

Bisnow asked Hammerson to clarify, and it issued a statement.

"The masterplan includes space for up to 200K SF of dining and retail," the statement said. "Given the location we expect the mix to be led by dining spaces (restaurants, bars and cafes) located around the central square and boulevard. There is flexibility in terms of mix but at this stage we would expect the retail to be convenience-led.

"There is flexibility but at this stage we’d expect the majority of that space to be restaurants/cafes/leisure."

Hammerson, which owns and manages the nearby Bullring and Grand Central shopping centres, and has presided over the slow-moving development site since 1999, said this is the first major application as a part of its City Quarters concept.

Announced by Hammerson in July 2018, City Quarters looks to create mixed-use neighbourhoods surrounding its existing flagship destinations around the UK. The concept will see Hammerson transform many of its city venues beyond pure retail into successful neighbourhoods providing homes, workspace and accessible public areas and deceisively shifting away from its core activity in the retail sector.

The development of the 379K SF Martineau Galleries would capitalise on the medium-term potential of east-of-centre locations close to the Curzon Street HS2 station, raising the prospect of it becoming the Brindleyplace of Birmingham's Eastside.