BIRMINGHAM STARTS TO BUILD AGAIN
Anyone following the press in recent months cannot help to have noticed the increasing number of accolades now being thrown at the City. From being Britain’s first biophilic City with its green credentials putting it alongside San Francisco & Oslo , to having more Michelin starred restaurants than any other British City outside the Capital , to being fourth placed in the best location in the UK to have a second home list in the Sunday Times survey ad listed and now highlighted as the most entrepreneurial location in the UK outside London… And of course there’s HS2 on the way. The transformation to an aspirational urban hub is well underway .
When Clients of ours recently acquired a large City Fringe located former furniture repository previously belonging to a major City Department store. The vision of the developer was not to recreate the’ lets cram as many flats in to this as we can’ but to’ lets acknowledge who now lives in the City & who wants to stay here’ . These large authentic lofts will come on stream this autumn. Its an approach we are going to see more & more of throughout the City. The fleeting visitor & graduate is now putting down roots here and with Central London accommodation prices continuing to rise beyond the reach of the average man this is going to stay. The upside is that we will see a wider range of accommodation being built in the next few years than ever before.
The next issue than needs to be really tackled by the City are the links between inner city neighbourhoods. Whilst the efficient roads allow traffic to stream around easily the downside ,never properly addressed by the City planners ,is the way the roads create barriers between areas. Now as the City core regenerates & more people discover the quality of living that can be had here we need to address the donut & relook at those areas many people drive through on their way to the suburbs. The regeneration of the Jewellery Quarter is a classic example of this. My major gripes this moment are the way the JQ links awkwardly to The City Core …surely Ludgate Hill must be able to naturally extend into Church Street over the underpass? The other is the pointless raised road that links Hockley Hill (Great Hampton Street) to Soho Hill. It does nothing other than let drivers speed from one set of lights to another but more importantly it doesn’t allow the goodwill & regeneration now happening in the JQ to flow outward into the once superb houses built immediately off Soho Hill. The whole Hockley Circle area below the road bridge is an area of neglect that could easily be transformed by dropping it . It is an example of City Planning of another time.
Philip Jackson is the founding director of Maguire Jackson Estate Agents.