Birmingham’s most diverse city district has unveiled concept plans for a new multi-million pound public realm project which will create high quality pedestrianised areas by closing off through-roads with the potential to construct a giant traditional Chinese Arch.
Championed by Southside Business Improvement District (BID) in partnership with Birmingham City Council, Birmingham Hippodrome and the Chinese community, the project proposes the construction of a new public space for Southside. For the first time Chinatown will be united by removing traffic from part of Ladywell Walk and Hurst Street up to Thorp Street. The new square would be used to promote outdoor cultural performances, festivals, markets and public art installations and will significantly improve public access to Southside by enhancing pedestrian and cycle routes to and from the city centre and major transport hubs.
Southside Square is the latest potential development to be announced in the district following news of the Planning Committee’s approval for a £70 million regeneration project on Smallbrook Queensway, including plans for one of Birmingham’s tallest residential buildings and the demolition of the Ringway Centre. The new square and improvements to surrounding streets will also provide greatly enhanced pedestrian and cycle connections to the proposed Birmingham Smithfield regeneration site.
The public realm improvements are being developed through the Southside Link project, part of the Enterprise Zone Connecting Opportunities programme which is being delivered by Birmingham City Council. Funding will be sought from the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP)’s Enterprise Zone, Section 106 funds from recent nearby residential schemes, and contributions from local businesses, organisations and community stakeholders.
Paul Garry, chairman of Southside Business Improvement District, said: “Southside Square is part of the wider regeneration of this part of the city, championed by Southside Business Improvement District in its remit to improve the area for all. We anticipate the Square will provide a safe and welcoming environment for all visitors and residents to enjoy and we are working hard with our partners to make this project a reality.”
Councillor John Clancy, leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “This is an important stage in ongoing plans to transform the south side of the city centre, delivering better public spaces and an improved quality of life for residents and visitors.
“Together with the recent announcement of a £70 million plan to redevelop Smallbrook Queensway, Southside Square will give a new heart and stronger identity to Chinatown, as well as extending the benefits of the New Street Station redevelopment with improved pedestrian and cycle links.
“This is an important link in the development chain that will eventually lead to completion of the £500 million Smithfield project to regenerate the wholesale markets area with 2,000 new homes, as well as parks and gardens.”
Fiona Allan, CEO and artistic director of Birmingham Hippodrome and president of UK Theatre, said: “Now more than ever arts and culture have a crucial role in connecting people from all cultural and economic backgrounds
“This will be an exciting and new creative space where local communities can gather for cultural experiences, as performers, participants and audiences. We look forward to enhancing our performance programme in this space as we grow our festivals and our community projects for increasingly diverse audiences”.
James Wong, Chairman of Chinese Festival Committee – Birmingham and Director of Chung Ying Group, added: “This public realm project really sees Southside’s ambitions come to fruition. Making the area easier to navigate and more welcoming for pedestrians is integral to its being a must-visit destination. This new space also enables us to showcase the fantastic arts and culture we have here. The Chinese arch is something that CFC-B has been working to achieve for a long time; creating a permanent celebration of Chinese culture in Birmingham and an icon that will be celebrated for years to come.”