Tom Grunt

Passion Points: 625

Construction & regeneration
10 May 2019 - Tom Grunt
News & Updates

Timber Yard, Birmingham, UK - latest update

Work has commenced on the build of Timber Yard, a residential scheme in the Southside area of Birmingham.  

Take the post for more on this build.

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Timber Yard is a residential scheme in the Southside area of Birmingham designed by Claridge Architects.

It is one of several projects brought forward by joint-venture developers Apsley House Capital and Galliard Homes, and the first one to have reached a construction stage.

The project includes 379 apartments spread across two buildings ranging from 7 to 14 storeys, lots of private and public green space, plenty of ground floor commercial space, private gym for residents, concierge, cinema and 95 car park spaces.

There’s going to be 10 commercial units for shops and restaurants on the ground floor and all located on Skinner Lane. These will benefit from a number of bespoke, timber benches placed along this street.

A planning application was submitted in November 2017 with approval granted in October 2018. There was a brief delay in approving the scheme as objections were raised by local club owners, who feared that presence of apartments in immediate vicinity of their clubs could lead to noise complaints from future residents, which in turn could lead to the clubs being forced to close.

Following these complaints, the developer held a meeting with the club owners and reassured them that all the bedroom windows would be sufficiently sound-proofed.

Architecture & Massing

One of the scheme’s objectives is to restore the urban grain in the area, as the plot has been nothing but a surface car park since the 70s which has had a negative visual impact on the landscape.

The density of this scheme is in keeping with buildings around it and also takes into account future projects, namely Smithfield.

The development acts as a transition between Smithfield and other residential builds to the west and north.

The city planners weren’t supportive of the originally proposed 19-storey building at the corner of Pershore Street and Skinner Lane and so the height was reduced to 14-storeys, only as tall as necessary to mark the corner.

The design directly reflects the area’s context, with the most used material in the area being red and brown brick, hence why brick has been chosen for this development, albeit of a slightly different colour.

The brick chosen is somewhat paler and has a more contemporary feel, but compliments its surroundings.

The site is bounded by four streets, and the composition of façade differs to an extent on each of the streets to reflect the immediate vicinity. For example, because Hurst Street is quite a narrow road with high pedestrian footfall and a lot of shops, it felt appropriate that the façade facing this road should assume a more vertical expression.

On the other hand, blocks facing Skinner Lane and Pershore Street have façades with wider openings and horizontal expressions as the roads are wider and are not major pedestrian routes.

Public Space & Greenery

The block breaks up in two places which allows for creation of two public pocket parks, one on Skinner Lane and one on Claybrook Street.

There’s a large communal private garden in the courtyard on which grass, fern, shrubs and trees will be planted in an informal arrangement. A pedestrian route with benches will run through the garden, and give off a light woodland feel.

Further greenery is going to be created along Claybrook Street with a wide planting strip created running along the full length of the street and varieties of indigenous wild flowers will be planted on the roof to create bio-diverse gardens.

It is one of the first pieces of puzzle in the continuous regeneration of this part of Birmingham, with a number of other schemes underway or proposed.

Tomas Grunt

Artist impression by Claridge Architects

Artist impression by Claridge Architects

Artist impression by Claridge Architects

Artist impression by Claridge Architects

Artist impression by Claridge Architects

Artist impression by Claridge Architects

Artist impression by Claridge Architects

Photo by Stephen Giles

Photo by Stephen Giles

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40 passion points
Construction & regeneration
26 Apr 2019 - Tom Grunt
News & Updates

Play, Relaxation and Recreation at Connaught Square - a huge regeneration scheme in Digbeth, Birmingham

Connaught Square is one of the largest and most important regeneration schemes Birmingham has seen in decades. 

Take the full article produced by Tomas Grunt, one of Birmingham's People with Passion for construction and find out more about this amazing development. Artist's impressions by K4 Architects.

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Connaught Square lies opposite Birmingham Coach Station and stretches all the way to the Irish Centre, which was originally part of the scheme. However the scheme now stops just short of it, although we may see a proposal to develop that land in the future.

Artist's Impression by K4 Architects

This residential-led scheme comprises 770 apartments with retail and commercial space at just over 4,000 sq. m. There will be a total of 105 car park spaces and 656 secure cycle parking spaces. The most eye-catching aspect of this proposal is a plan to bring river Rea up to the surface. In this area, the river currently runs underground.

The site was originally going to be developed in the late 2000s with planning permission for a large mixed-use scheme granted in 2007. That scheme had consisted of 700 residential units, similarly to the current proposal, and had also included a 4* hotel and a skybar. Because of the financial crisis the developer went bankrupt, and the scheme failed to materialize alongside a number of other projects across the city.

The current scheme first saw the light of day in November 2015 when the Birmingham based developer Seven Capital began pre-application discussions with Birmingham City Council and eventually lodged a planning application in September 2016.

Seven Capital’s initial proposal consisted of 940 residential units spread across 5 buildings ranging from 5 to 18 storeys and almost 6,000 sq.m of retail and commercial space.

In the period between the lodging of application in September 2016 and the application being finally approved early 2019 there was an extensive liaison between Seven Capital, Birmingham City Council and several agencies such as the Environment Agency and Lead Local Flood Authority.

Some of the major concerns included massing, layout, mix of residential units and concerns of ecological and environmental nature in respect of the River Rea.

The Council didn’t like the mix of residential units which favoured 1-bedroom apartments, so to make it family friendly, a higher amount of 2 and 3 bedroom apartments was demanded.

Another thing the Council was adamant about was pedestrian permeability and the quality of public space.

The footprint of buildings 3 and 4 was significantly reduced which created a new public route between the river and Stone Yard, in addition the scheme now had just 4 instead of the original 5 buildings, which aided pedestrian permeability.

To make the scheme more in line with the urban landscape around it, the height of the houses was reduced by 1 storey, while the height of the tower was increased from 18 to 28 storeys to make it appear slender, and portland stone was chosen as a cladding material to make the tower stand out, as according to the council, the initial design was grey and dull.  

The Council also asked if the John F. Kennedy mosaic mural could be moved from its current location on Floodgate Street and make it part of the scheme to which the applicant agreed.

One of the scheme’s great family-oriented features is the inclusion of major roof gardens on 3 out of 4 buildings and 6 minor gardens on all 4 buildings. Each major garden is split into 3 zones; the zones being ‘Play’, ‘Recreation’ and ‘Relaxation’. The Play Area is designed for children of all ages and supports healthy child development, the Recreation Area is for sports and exercise while the Relaxation Area is a quieter and sheltered space. The zones are connected by a network of footpaths.

Artist's Impression by K4 Architects

What makes this scheme unique is the River Rea and the green and public space around it. The river will be brought up to surface and its banks widened, creating ‘floodable terraces’ for increased flood protection. The floodable terracing will make the scheme look and feel much greener, natural and wider. The applicant is looking to plant native trees and shrubs which will form green habitats. It is the applicant’s ambition that the widened river channel will become a protected habitat zone.

Artist's impression by K4 Architects

The scheme has been designed by Digbeth based K4 Architects. After the extensive liaison between the applicant, Birmingham City Council and the various agencies, the scheme was finally approved in January 2019 and the construction is scheduled to start in the summer 2019. The development will be delivered in two phases and Phase 1 including the tower is expected to be completed in March 2022 and Phase 2 in August 2023.

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