Hammerson submits plans to transform Birmingham’s Grand Central into future-focused workplace and amenity quarter

Hammerson has submitted plans to transform the former department store at Grand Central, part of its Birmingham estate, into 200,000 sq ft of modern wellbeing-designed offices called ‘Drum’.

Designed by Ken Shuttleworth’s Make Architects, the proposals reflect Hammerson’s strategy to reinvigorate its prime urban estates through diversifying uses whilst maximising the re-use of embodied carbon in existing buildings.

The plans respond to the significant demand for the best-connected city centre space by occupiers and staff – especially in the centre of a young and diverse city, whose economy has grown by 25% in the last five years. Drum, which takes its name from the instrumental design of the building, will set a benchmark for the new paradigm of city centre workplace, incorporating the best levels of amenity, connectivity and ESG.

Drum will extend the former department store’s atrium through all the four floors of the building to include a sweeping, open, communal entrance that widens as it rises, providing visual connectivity between the floors and drawing daylight right down through the heart of the space. It will also lead to a newly created rooftop garden lounge, an important external, communal space for residents. Green walls on each level will give the appearance of the garden spilling back down through the building.

The workspace is expected to accommodate up to 2,000 people and will be the best-connected office in Birmingham, with unrivalled access via train and tram, as well benefitting from excellent cycle and pedestrian access, and integration with Hammerson’s wider Bullring Estate. The team has worked closely with key stakeholders, including Network Rail, Birmingham City Council and West Midlands Combined Authority, to create a design that will serve as a leading-edge workspace for the city and its businesses and staff.

Harry Badham, Chief Development and Asset Repositioning Officer at Hammerson, said: “This project is the next step in Hammerson’s vision to transform our Birmingham estate, creating a truly multi-use asset that thrives due to its relevance and diversity. Inspired by the 15-minute city concept Drum is also an original and highly important evolution of workplaces, built on the principles of connectivity, amenities, and sustainability. It will bring to Birmingham a new type of workspace that meets the requirements post-pandemic of established and start-up businesses, creating a new world-class environment at this key national interchange and gateway to the UK’s fastest growing city.”

As part of the proposals, the ground floor will be repurposed to deliver a rich amenity offer that supports tenants and enhances the experience for other visitors. The 40,000 sq ft space will complement the existing food and hospitality hub in Grand Central, adding a combined hospitality space with restaurant, bar and food market. In addition, the proposals will create space for a premium grocery offer, gym, wellbeing amenities, flexible events space, and end of trip facilities for cyclists.

Ken Shuttleworth, Founding Partner at Make Architects, commented: “We’ve been creatively considering how we rethink big box retail within city centres, to ensure we can enliven these key spaces and draw people back into the workplace by prioritising wellbeing and dynamism. We’ve applied this here so the design for Drum goes beyond a traditional workspace in every sense.”

The designs centre around innovatively reusing the retail structure, sustainably retaining as much of it as possible and embedding health, wellbeing, and social amenity into the core of the space. By refurbishing rather than developing a new building, approximately 14,000 tonnes of CO2 will be saved. Hammerson and Make are targeting a BREEAM Excellent rating, an EPC rating of A, a Well Standard for occupier wellbeing of Gold, and Wired Scored Platinum, creating a 2030 LETI Band A compliant development.

Subject to achieving planning consent, work on the transformation will begin later this year, with the potential for completion in 2025.

Cushman & Wakefield represent Hammerson for office lettings and Bruce Gillingham Pollard represent Hammerson for hospitality and leisure lettings within Drum.