Plans to transform a four-acre Jewellery Quarter site that has been home to engineering firm AE Harris for more than 50 years have been submitted to Birmingham City Council. Joint venture partners Galliard Homes and Apsley House Capital are aiming to transform the site into a residential-led mixed-use scheme – master-planned and designed by Glenn Howells Architects – that will become a new hub for the quarter.
Bordered by Newhall Street, Graham Street, Brook Street, James Street and Northwood Street, the site has been used by the 138-year old engineering firm since 1964. Modernised manufacturing methods mean the firm no longer required the same levels of floor space and as such are moving to a new smaller site in Frankley.
The masterplan proposals are for a £125million mixed-use scheme of more than 320 new homes – including lofts and duplexes – and circa 100,000 sq ft of work, food & beverage, and retail space across 20 buildings of between two and five storeys.
The plans include a new pedestrian route from the direction of the city centre in to the heart of the Jewellery Quarter. This will be created by opening up a section of Northwood Street which currently only serves the AE Harris’ factory. In addition, a new public space will be created in the heart of the scheme, animated by shops, bars and restaurants at street level.
Dav Bansal, director at Glenn Howells Architects, said: “The approach has been to reconnect and unlock this part of the quarter with a sympathetic and granular composition of new streets, courts and buildings that reflect the intense character of the Jewellery Quarter. We believe the ‘surgical’ regeneration in this part of the JQ will help to reanimate the quarter as an important piece of the city, while offering an artisan setting for residents, visitors, makers and entrepreneurs.
The proposal is to carefully restore some existing fabric alongside a contemporary collection of buildings which share a contextual palette of materials, detailing and proportions.
Two Grade II listed buildings, the former Harper’s Hill Works and a neo-Georgian factory on the corner of Newhall Street and James Street are preserved, as well as two further ‘range’ buildings considered to be of architectural merit – 123 Northwood Street, which extends to Regent Place, and 128 Northwood Street.
The variety in scale, level changes and order of facades bring an interesting streetscape while the choice of brickwork textures and tones add to the distinct quality of each building. We believe this new place respects and in turn celebrates the historical setting, bringing much needed workspace, amenities and homes to the quarter.”
Stephen Conway, chairman of Galliard Homes, said: “The Jewellery Quarter is one of Birmingham’s best assets. Our plans will create a new animated hub in the area where people can live, work and play. As well as new homes, the scheme’s ground floor commercial space will provide opportunities for up-and-coming independent bars and restaurants, whether that’s local heroes or brands new to the city. We are also keen to support jewellers and artists by providing affordable retail and business space. Community leaders have also told us of the need for event space in the Jewellery Quarter. This is something we will look to incorporate.”
Robin Norstrom, director at Apsley House Capital, said: “We are thrilled to have secured the AE Harris site and have some exciting plans to transform this underutilised industrial area. The Jewellery Quarter became increasingly industrialised from the 1960s onwards, but prior to that most people working in the area would have lived there too. It will be great to see this important gateway site returning to its roots, with more than 500 people living here. We have spent the last year consulting with the local community and the city council to ensure we have a scheme that will be both respectful of and regenerative to this historic area. The opportunity to improve access from the city centre has been particularly welcomed.”
The scheme is anticipated to take five years to deliver however the reopening of Northwood Street will take place once AE Harris leaves the site.