Glancy Nicholls’ 711-home Birmingham scheme rejected

New buildings were set to rise from seven to 11-storeys, with one 23-storey tower on the eastern side of Lendlease’s massive Smithfield regeneration masterplan.

Yesterday (17 August) Birmingham City Council’s planning committee voted by six votes to three to refuse the plans for Smithfield Lofts, questioning the lack of affordable housing proposed, the number of one and two-bed units, and the loss of several non-listed heritage assets.

‘This is application is, quite frankly, awful,’ said councillor Gareth Moore. ‘Its pretty boring, as [noted] by some of the objectors, [and] it doesn’t really meet the housing mix we need.

Glancy Nicholls’ rejected proposal for Smithfield Lofts

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Councillors expressed concern that delivering the proposed scheme would have involved demolition of a range of two to three-storey buildings, including some traditional redbrick factory and warehouse buildings, and other post-war development.

Glancy Nicholls submitted revised designs in September last year with changes to the heights and layout of the scheme, moving a 21-storey tower from the north of the site to the south and increasing height to 23 storeys, among other tweaks.

Although one councillor said the Smithfield Loft proposals were ‘smart in their design and made use of brownfield land’, councillors noted the demand for three and four-bed units in the centre of Birmingham for families instead of one-beds, which accounted for 44 per cent of the proposed units in the submitted scheme.

He added: ‘I’m disappointed in the [zero] affordable provision.’

Under Glancy Nicholls’ plans for Prosperity Developments, the 1.2ha scheme near Digbeth coach station would have provided 317 one-bed units and 394 two-beds above 2,099m2 of commercial space at ground floor level.

The Grade II-listed Anchor public house at the junction of Bradford Street and Rea Street would have been retained under the plans, which were first submitted in June 2021.

The practice told the AJ a decision was now being taken by the developer to consider options. Prosperity Developments was contacted comment.

That masterplan was drawn-up by Prior & Partners and David Kohn Architects with other practices working on separate phases.

‘There’s also the [issue of] heritage assets, several of which are meant to be lost [under the proposals] and I find it quite interesting they were marketed as “low-risk”, given they were to be demolished […] I don’t understand why these have to be lost.’

Councillor Jack Deakin said: ‘It seems like we do not have much weight at all to influence [housing provision] on some of these applications and it is disappointing. There are families that want to live in homes like this and [they are currently in] larger homes because they need [the space]. [Bigger homes are required] in this area of the city.’