Rockspring Kick-starts Regeneration of Birmingham Smithfield

The first new development underway in the Smithfield district of Birmingham has been launched.

Cllr John Clancy, leader of Birmingham City Council, visited the site with Cllr Peter Griffiths, cabinet member for housing and homes, to view progress at The Forum, a £50 million development of 334 private rental sector (PRS) apartments by Rockspring Property Investment Managers LLP (“Rockspring”).

The councillors performed a concrete pour at the scheme – Birmingham’s first specifically designed PRS development, to mark the latest phase of construction – which includes the formation of the main concrete frame and floors above ground level following completion of the structural groundworks.

The Forum is on Pershore Street, on the site of the former Silver Blades ice rink, and within the 14-hectare Birmingham Smithfield perimeter.

Birmingham City Council is planning to regenerate this historic markets area of the city. Plans include 300,000 sq m of leisure, retail, hotel and cultural space and 2,000 new homes set around a new public space – Festival Square – and park.

There will be a new base for the indoor, retail and rag markets, to include a food hub. More than £500million will be invested in the ten-year project, one of the largest city centre development opportunities in the country.

Cllr Clancy said:

“The Forum is a significant development: not only does it kick-start the development of Birmingham Smithfield, it delivers much needed new homes to the city.

“There’s a housing crisis in this country and Birmingham is no exception. We need more affordable homes, we need more social housing and we need to give people hope.

“With 3,000 new jobs and 2,000 new homes Birmingham Smithfield puts people right at the heart of an exciting project that will in turn transform lives.”

Rockspring has already committed to Birmingham with its £60 million landmark office tower development on Colmore Row. The London-based fund acquired The Forum (formerly The Beacon) from developer Linkcity in May this year.

Paul Hampton, partner at Rockspring, said:

“Forming part of the Birmingham Smithfield regeneration area, this is an exciting project for us and is very much in line with our strategic focus on rapidly improving residential sub markets within dynamic cities that are experiencing high levels of urbanisation and growth.”

In another first for Birmingham, Rockspring has appointed multi-family specialist, Atlas Residential to manage the residences. Headquartered in Chicago and with an office in London, the firm operates more than 75,000 apartments in Texas and Florida.

In addition to the 334 – 5 studio, 262 one-bed and 67 two-bed – apartments, The Forum will boast a residents’ only gym, car park and landscaped gardens. The scheme is set to complete in mid 2018.

Bouygues UK is the main contractor for the development; Linkcity (formerly known as Bouygues Development) has been retained as development manager; the architects are Costorphine + Wright.

Nicolas Guérin, managing director of Linkcity, said:

“We look forward to working with Rockspring and our sister company Bouygues UK to deliver this vibrant project while also looking at further opportunities in the area.

With a vast amount of regeneration underway, new transport infrastructure such as HS2 in the pipeline and major employers coming to Birmingham, these are exciting times for Britain’s second city.

Having more than 40 per cent of the population aged under 25 and five universities means there is a huge market for high-quality build-to-rent developments, such as The Forum, as well as student accommodation projects.”

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