Jo Salmon, Head of Estates and Steve Sanders, Head of Development kindly explained Oval Real Estate’s ongoing active management, including the reactivation of a number of properties along Floodgate Street and The Bond, which recently secured GBSLEP funding to support the development of a dedicated Creative Content Hub. The Oval team also provided insight behind the exciting plans for the long term investment and regeneration in Digbeth, following the successful planning approval by members of the Birmingham City Council Planning Committee in May this year.
The approved plans provide a framework and long term vision for 42 acres of Digbeth centred round the iconic Custard Factory, which is owned by Oval. The framework, which will see the careful and gradual regeneration of Digbeth over the next 10 – 15 years, complements Oval’s ongoing investment in Digbeth, which has included physical improvements to the area, the introduction of new independent companies and plans for a major new creative content hub at The Bond.
The framework will provide up to 2.2 million square feet of commercial space and 1,850 homes alongside shops, restaurants, cafés and additional leisure facilities. This will support the creation of over 16,400 jobs and provide a substantial boost to the local Birmingham and wider West Midlands economy.
The plans will also improve public realm, pedestrian and cycle movement in the area, expose the River Rea, celebrate the Grand Union Canal and reactivate viaduct arches. The approval also means that plans can now be put in place to bring forward the much anticipated Viaduct Park, which will see the conversion of Duddeston Viaduct into accessible open space with views over the city centre.
Since Oval acquired the Custard Factory and other Digbeth buildings in 2017, they have been working with a wide range of stakeholders to develop the framework to understand what makes the area so special. Oval have worked in close collaboration with a team of designers, led by master planners, architects and landscape architects Studio Egret West and local practices Glenn Howells Architects and Bryant Priest Newman, alongside planning consultancy Turley to develop the plans.
In addition to the ongoing reactivation works the first phase of the framework will see the delivery of Wild Works, Custard Factory Living and the Custard Factory Extension, collectively providing new commercial office space, an element of ground floor retail and new homes. The exceptional design of the first phase is the high standard Oval will aim for in all future phases.
After a brief introduction to the scheme, delegates were provided with a guided tour of the estate, where Oval identified key elements of the reactivation works and framework ambitions.
Alex Slatter, chair of BCO NextGen said of the event: "Thank you again to the Oval Real Estates team for hosting and touring our BCO members around Digbeth. It was a privilege walking and talking through the masterplan with the team and allowed members to get a real sense of how Oval are re-imagining and re-activating the streets of Digbeth to build a vibrant and exciting place to live and work. A warm welcome back to our members with our first in-person event of the year, kick starting our exciting programme of events for the rest of the year!"
Joe Huddleston, BCO committee adds ‘What a fantastic afternoon and turn out; warm and sunny with a few welcome refreshments to help cool off afterward. We’re delighted so many members could join us. Don’t forget that all members of the BCO NextGen can join our current mentorship programme for free, it's up and running now. Do get in touch to join in with this great initiative, build your business skills and nurture your career with our industry leaders.