Harvest Partnership’s plans for the regeneration of the former Battery site received outline planning approval in autumn 2013. The consent permitted specific uses, but did not include the detailed design. This was allowed to be brought forward at a later date for Birmingham City Council (BCC) to consider at its Planning Committee as Reserved Matters. The Harvest Partnership submitted detailed plans for the retail and student accommodation components in June 2015 and received planning approval in December 2015.
The evolved designs have considered the following:
- Scale and layout
- Appearance and landscaping
- Pedestrian and cycle access
- Vehicular access within the site
Note: the Life Sciences Campus will be taken to Reserved Matters separately by BCC, who is leading on that development.
The retail-led scheme’s design itself has not altered significantly and will still feature Sainsbury’s, with a range of shops and places to eat and drink.
The student accommodation design has evolved as a series of three linked buildings, now separate to Sainsbury’s. The pedestrian access remains relatively unchanged, whilst the cycle routes have further evolved to allow cyclists to cross the site more easily, including along the greenway – a route reserved for a possible future canal link to Selly Oak Park.
The development will be a pleasant and attractive environment, with a series of shops and places to eat and drink that can be easily accessed by car, bicycle or on foot.
Good quality materials will be used throughout (eg wood panelling and tiling) and the retail units will have distinct characters reflecting the different brands anticipated.
An arcade fronting the shops will be formed with a series of columns and timber roofing offering shoppers shading and protection from the weather.
Key design features
- Reduced size Sainsbury’s (70,000 sq ft) with its sales area on the first floor and car parking below.
- Student accommodation set in three joined buildings of different heights located separately at the back of Sainsbury’s, still overlooking the future canal ‘square’ area.
- A line of linked shops of differing heights, running west to east, drawn together by a canopied arcade with high quality paving
- Shops sized 2,000 – 18,000 sq ft and able to contain mezzanine levels.
- Places to eat and drink with external seating located to the east of the site close to Sainsbury’s.
Note: the footbridge over the existing canal, as well as the former Goodman’s area, are subject to future planning permissions.
Bus and pedestrian access is in line with the outline consent, with pedestrian access available from:
- The north west corner adjacent to the future Life Sciences building, at the roundabout on the Aston Webb Boulevard.
- Bristol Road alongside the library, through Goodman’s Yard and over the canal via a new bridge, to the student accommodation building.
- Additionally, there will be access via a staircase from Bristol Road onto the canal towpath next to the student accommodation, as well as ramped disabled access to the towpath via the Sense (‘Dingle’) site off Bristol Road. There will be good cycle access to and within the site, with cycle and dismounted routes either via the greenway or the retail arcade. These routes connect to the wider cycle network that includes the Worcester & Birmingham Canal towpath.
With 866 car parking spaces, the car park layout incorporates a number of east-west and north-south pedestrian routes to encourage pedestrian access between the greenway, the retail arcade, the Life Science Campus, the existing canal and Goodman’s Yard area (which is subject to a future planning submission).
Pedestrians and cyclists can access the development from the greenway that runs from Selly Oak Park through to the Worcester & Birmingham Canal, with the last part of the route being under Sainsbury’s store. The greenway is located along the southernmost edge of the site and will be developed in such way as to facilitate the future building of a canal link from the existing canal to Selly Oak Park.
The new 70,000 sq ft Sainbury’s store is located on the first floor above ground floor level parking, designed as a distinctive building in its own right.
The frontage to the car park is dominated by a west facing two-storey atrium hall with travelator, lifts and stairs leading to two distinct customer entrances. The store’s customer restaurant is on the upper floor with views towards the shops, car park and Selly Oak Park.
The external design incorporates a tall protective canopy to the entrance area, which embodies a similar style and finish as is proposed for the shops area.
Sainsbury’s glazing allows daylight deep into the store. While the front (west) facade is mainly glazed, it also features timber panels. The other facades retain these materials with glazing in horizontal and vertical bands, used to separate two distinct styles of timber cladding.
The service vehicles are separated from customer cars at the extremities of the site. The Sainsbury’s service access is located on the Bristol Road, with an entrance that crosses above the greenway, which will be located below it. Servicing for the retailers and student accommodation is from a service road to the north of the site, running alongside the adjacent retaining wall.
As per the outline planning consent, an eight-pump petrol station will be located just off the Aston Boulevard roundabout entrance to the development.
The design of the purpose built, 424 room student accommodation seeks to create a building with an elegant and refined architecture that will appeal to students, with those on post-graduate courses being targeted.
Considerable thought has gone into evolving the scheme into the proposed design of dividing the building into three elements – the ‘Tower’, the ‘Shoulder’ and the ‘Mini Tower’.
The 18-storey tower faces the Bristol Road and will act as a gateway landmark enjoying widespread views across the area. The other components have been designed to respond to nearby features, notably the canal and future canal square area below them.
There will be a double-height space in its main reception area accessible from the canal side, as well as from Sainsbury’s. The building will incorporate high-quality materials featuring masonry, brick and metal, with its detailing aiming to achieve a crafted yet contemporary appearance.