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Beorma: Now or Never For The Digbeth Skyscrapers

Trevor Horne's design for the Beorma Quarter

Beorma is the ancient name for Birmingham, or so the story goes. It is an apt choice of branding for a stalled mixed-use redevelopment that, a decade after it surfaced, seems to have been going on forever.

Kuwait-based Salhia Investments secured its first planning consent for the Beorma Quarter in 2009, amidst reports that work on site would begin by the end of that year with completion planned for 2012.

That was the first in a series of disclosures that work on site was imminent, to be followed by reports in 2010 and 2012. More recently, work on site was said to be poised to begin in early 2016, then in late 2017. In the meantime the original planning application has been revised, most recently to reduce the residential element to 194 units.

Salhia has now said work on the site opposite Selfridges department store really will begin. There will be a 30-storey tower, 200K SF of offices and 15K SF of retail on the 2.3-acre Digbeth site.

Construction is due to begin later this year, funded entirely by Salhia, Global Construction Review reported.

A main contractor has yet to be appointed, but various parties are being approached, and Salhia is in prelet talks with a number of potential office occupiers, according to Estates Gazette.

Long-term skepticism about the project surfaced as far back as 2009, questioning the need for office space in an off-pitch location. However, the growth of Digbeth as a media/TMT location and potential home for Channel 4 — and Birmingham's surging £10B build-to-rent market — have changed the dynamics behind Beorma.