• Sectors: Housing and Placemaking, Government, Cities

Digbeth Canal Corridor Regeneration Masterplan

Birmingham, United Kingdom - Arcadis has worked with Birmingham City Council and Homes England to develop an investible framework for the regeneration of Digbeth. In an area at the heart of Birmingham’s Creative Quarter, a careful balance has been struck between creating value, providing new housing and development and retaining the existing character of the area.

48 hectare

regeneration masterplan


new homes
Arcadis leads regeneration of Digbeth

Developing a regeneration masterplan in Birmingham

Birmingham is in the midst of an urban renaissance. The arrival of HS2 and its increased connectivity to London and the rest of the country promises further transformation, unlocking major sites for regeneration and accelerating Birmingham’s social, environmental and economic growth.

A key part of this transformation is the area around the new Curzon Street HS2 station, which will effectively create a new ‘front door’ to catalyse further growth. To the south, Digbeth and the Grand Union Canal Corridor have a key role to play. They present a unique stage to develop a new urban district close to the retail and commercial core of the city, as well as connecting to Birmingham’s heritage and legacy as an important industrial centre.

An investable and deliverable regeneration framework

Arcadis was appointed by Birmingham City Council, together with Homes England, as lead consultant to prepare a comprehensive regeneration framework masterplan, exploring development opportunities and setting out an investible vision focussed on the canal corridor in east Digbeth. This covers approximately 48 hectares of the city and has the potential to provide more than 2,000 new homes, whilst enhancing the existing Creative Quarter and responding to two Conservation Areas.

The Digbeth site is flanked by two railway viaducts to the north and west, and dissected by the redundant Duddeston viaduct arcing south to east. This intersection of river, canal and railway viaducts, interlaced with warehouse and factory buildings from the Victorian era, has provided a rich, multi-layered canvas for developing a new creative quarter. There are significant opportunities within the area to create a blend between traditional and alternate workplace, retail and entertainment offers based on enhancing the existing cultural and architectural heritage. This presents a unique opportunity to enhance the diversity of Birmingham as a place to live, work and enjoy.

There is a complex mix of landownerships and uses across the area. The site currently includes large open spaces historically or currently used as surface carparking, a waste transfer station and depots, some existing housing, warehousing, cash and carry, a variety of light industrial uses, an emerging art and cultural scene, as well as a small number of existing residential properties.

As lead consultant, in preparing the regeneration framework masterplan Arcadis provided project and development management, regeneration masterplanning and urban design, landscape and public realm design, flood risk, environment, engineering and infrastructure and transport consultancy. 

The masterplan focuses on the development’s potential to create strong links to key planned public transport services, and provides for a well-balanced and appropriate range of uses, including hotel, retail and food and drink offers. In view of the significant population uplift that is expected to occur throughout the delivery period, the masterplan also makes potential provision for social infrastructure, including a new primary school.Scenario Fazeley

Funding and Delivery

Arcadis provided potential funding advice and guidance to Birmingham City Council, with enhancements to open space and public access being developed thanks to the identification of funding via Parks Infrastructure Growth Schemes and consideration of the interventions which might be supported by the £1bn Curzon Investment Fund.

Arcadis also supported the development of a strategy to expand and improve premises by supporting existing businesses and start-ups with gap funding grants and loans, advising on the potential introduction of an affordable workspace policy to encourage greater uptake by small and medium sized enterprises. Arcadis provided advice and guidance on links to the Enterprise Zone and, with regards to incentivising investment through delivery of superfast broadband infrastructure, pump-priming of key development sites and providing a Development Protocol to help in securing planning permissions. By expanding the City Centre Enterprise Zone, there is the potential for an additional £724 million worth of investment into the Curzon area.

The masterplan will inform the creation of a Supplementary Planning Document, acting as a focal point for regeneration and forming a delivery plan for the public sector. It sets out key next steps for realising the potential of Digbeth, in addition to identifying early narrative business cases for public sector funding through the Curzon Delivery plan and other funding sources.

Eight case study areas were examined in detail. These areas were all developed to a greater level of detail to enhance the evidence base which supported the framework masterplan. They all include identification of existing barriers to development and the key next steps to move into delivery.  

“Arcadis has successfully developed a deliverable framework for the regeneration of Digbeth. The team
have understood the multiple challenges presented by this complex area, as well as the ambitions of the combined client team and wider stakeholders and brought together an extensive multi-disciplinary team that
has worked flexibly to add real value.”

James Betjemann, Birmingham City Council


48 hectare

regeneration masterplan


new homes


delivery plans established

Questions about this project

Simon Marks

City Executive Birmingham Ask me a question

David Jobling

UK Town Centre Lead Ask me a question
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