Lendlease submits revised £1.9bn Birmingham Smithfield plans

In October the AJ reported the developer had been forced to make key design changes to its original planning application lodged a year ago, following objections from Historic England over the scheme’s potential harm to the historic cityscape. The government’s heritage watchdog was also concerned the development might disturb ‘significant medieval remains’.

The reworked plans also include revisions to comply with the pending changes to fire safety legislation requiring a second staircase in residential buildings over 18m tall.

The masterplan for the 17ha site, the home of Birmingham’s historic markets, has been drawn up by Prior + Partners along with New York High Line lead James Corner Field Operations. It includes buildings by RCKa, Stirling Prize-winners dRMM and Haworth Tompkins and up-and-coming local practices Intervention Architecture and Minesh Patel Architects.

Some of the biggest alterations to the initial designs were made to the proposed market drawn up by David Kohn Architects with Birmingham-based  ‘artist-run multiverse’ Eastside Projects, billed as a ‘colourful and lively destination with a distinct day and night-time feel’.

These blocks were previously set to sit above the buried remains of the historic moat and manor house of the de Birmingham family.

The indoor markets (Plot 5A) will now be moved north to avoid the archaeology. The site will instead become the main public space in the early stages of the development. Originally known as Festival Square, it has been renamed Manor Square to ‘celebrate the importance of the site as the Birthplace of the City’.

The indoor market building keeps the design principles of the originally submitted planning application with a sawtooth roof over the fish and meat market hall, colourful signage, wayfinding and a brick exterior and shops along the perimeter.


Original open market building and separate block housing dining hall plus rag and indoor market, designed by David Kohn Architects and Eastside Projects (left); revised proposals from October 2023 consultation (right)

According to documents revealed during the October consultation of the reworked proposals, the relocation of the public square led to a rejigging of the workspace building by Haworth Tompkins and Minesh Patel Architects (on Plot 3A). An extra storey has been added to the height of the building, increasing the total office space provided.

All the residential buildings by dRMM and Intervention Architecture (on plot 1D) have been redesigned to include an extra staircase, accessible to all residents.

Joint venture partner and landowner Birmingham City Council named Lendlease as its development partner in late 2018 for the site, part of which once housed the now-demolished wholesale markets.

Colin Murphy, project lead on Smithfield Birmingham for Lendlease, said: ‘Throughout 2023 Lendlease and our design teams redesigned aspects of the masterplan to further enhance and protect the heritage of Birmingham’s markets.

‘It has been great to speak to people about the changes and hear their views of the development. The resubmission of our planning application reflects that engagement and is an important step forward in Birmingham’s transformation as an international city.’


January 2023 plans – the originally proposed open market building and rag and indoor market by David Kohn Architects and Eastside Projects. The scheme has been significantly altered