Birmingham Council set to give green light to Digbeth market scheme
The redevelopment of Birmingham’s 21-acre wholesale markets site in Digbeth appeared to be back on track last night – despite the recession.
City council leaders are likely to agree a £100million scheme to move the markets to new purpose-built accommodation in Witton.
Cabinet members are expected to approve a move to the former IMI premises in Witton Road, on a one million sq ft site owned by property firm Prupim.
The decision will open up the huge Digbeth markets site, on the edge of the city centre, for redevelopment – with US developers Hines favourites to land a lucrative contract to mastermind one of the largest mixed-use schemes in Birmingham for years.
Prupim is almost certain to get the nod after landowners St Modwen withdrew a rival plan to house the wholesale markets at Heartlands Park, on the site of the former Alsthom manufacturing plant.
The council has spent more than two years considering how best to provide modern accommodation for the largest wholesale market in the country.
But the project has always been driven by a wish to unlock the huge redevelopment site at Digbeth.
Birmingham’s Big City Plan suggests land currently occupied by the markets could be used for a variety of purposes including expansion of the city centre retail and commercial district, or the creation of a new entertainment zone with open air markets, theatres and cafes.
A year ago, the council put the value of the Digbeth markets site at £20million and claimed developers were queuing up to buy the land.
But the recession and property slump is likely to have cut the figure by as much as half.
Even so, selling the site to Hines would raise valuable income and help the council reduce its borrowing requirement and meet the cost of delivering projects such as the new Library of Birmingham and the Olympic swimming pool.
Relocating the market to Witton will make life easier for traders who currently have to negotiate the narrow roads in Digbeth to reach the 80 fruit, vegetable, flower, fish, seafood and meat wholesalers who make up the wholesale market.