The developer says it will work closely with council officers to understand the £1.9bn city centre project’s latest deferral


CGI of the Smithfield development

Lendlease’s plans for the £1.9bn Smithfield regeneration were deferred by Birmingham council again at the end of last week over concerns about the developer’s proposals for green and open spaces.

Councillors and local organisations raised objections to the size of a proposed public square and park. The Smithfield redevelopment is expected to deliver 3,000 homes overall.

A number of high-profile architects are working on the plans, located next to the city’s Bull Ring shopping centre, including Stirling Prize-winner Haworth Tompkins as well as dRMM, Intervention Architecture, Minesh Patel Architects and RCKa with James Corner Field Operations designing the public realm and landscape.

Councillor Gareth Moore said what had been put forward so far was “not compliant with either the Birmingham development plan or the masterplan for Smithfield which always envisioned a large-capacity events space as part of that”.

Birmingham Smithfield 2023 2

How Manor Square would look when built

The council officer’s report for the planning committee on Thursday 16 May stated that while the site can currently accommodate a large festival, “there is no planning policy requirement for the square to be of a minimum size or hold any particular events”.

The report added that the estimated capacity for events in Manor Square “is not insubstantial”, and would accommodate 6,500-7,000 people.

> Also read: Historic England objection hits Lendlease’s £2bn Birmingham plans with one-year delay

The council officer also noted that there had been objections to the size and location of Smithfield Park. The CityPark4Brum campaign argued that Smithfield Park “must be much larger” and pointed out that the park Lendlease will deliver in Elephant and Castle is 25% bigger.

The objection highlights that the park falls below the council’s requirement that new residential developments provide new public open space of around two hectares per 1000 people.

Birmingham Smithfield 2023

Overview of the site in Birmingham city centre

Lendlease first lodged its planning application in December 2022, but Historic England said it could not support the proposals stating that it would “harm the historic cityscape but also disturb significant medieval remains”. 

In the revised plans submitted this year, Lendlease said that all proposed buildings would be constructed away from an 18th century moat and medieval walls. 

However, the council officer noted that the Smithfield redevelopment is “a very dense city centre proposal, therefore providing these open space requirements on this character of development would make the proposal unviable, as much of the site would be open space and not developable”.

A spokesperson for Lendlease said: “We respect the planning committee’s decision and will now work closely with officers to understand the reasons for a deferral. We look forward to presenting the application again in the near future.”