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Historic England asks Lendlease to revise its plans for Smithfield Market in Birmingham



Above: aerial perspective and section cutaway from the south - of proposed Birmingham Smithfield development (David Kohn Architects for Lendlease)


Future Cities Forum is delighted that Rosamund Worrall, Team Leader, Development in the Midlands for Historic England, will be joining our Birmingham discussion forum hosted by MEPC.


Rosamund will be discussing the region's heritage that is at risk and explaining why it is so important for economic growth that particular sites are preserved.


Currently Historic England wants developer Lendlease to make revisions to their £1.9 billion plans to transform Smithfield Market in Digbeth, where events were hosted at the Commonwealth Games last year. It says the proposals could harm the city's landscape, and that they fail to meet national planning policies. The concern also lies with 'expected harm' to the remains of a medieval manor site. The character of Deritend and Bordeslay are also threatened, it states. It says the plans fall short of what should be expected of England's second-largest city and are a missed opportunity.

It describes how the site occupies an important position in that it is regarded as Birmingham’s birthplace. It is where the settlement first developed around the moated manor house of the de Birmingham family, the Parish Church of St Martin’s and, subsequently, its marketplace, the Bull Ring.


Louise Brennan, Midlands Regional Director at Historic England, who has joined Future Cities Forum's previous discussions on preserving and adapting heritage in Coventry and Derby, says:

'We want to see the city continue to move forward whilst embracing Birmingham’s heritage, creating a place that people are proud of and can enjoy.'

'The redevelopment of Smithfield Market is an opportunity to create a place that will help the city to prosper. Unfortunately, the current designs would cause considerable harm to the historic environment that has been built here over centuries.

'We are recommending significant but achievable revisions to the current proposals and are keen to advise the City Council and developers to help deliver a scheme that recognises the power of heritage in successful place-making.'

Historic England provides advice on planning applications, but also on planning policy. Since 2021, Historic England has been engaging with Birmingham City Council’s on its Our Future City Plan vision and on its draft Local Plan, which will shape the direction of growth and associated planning policies up to 2042.

A further public consultation on Our Future City Plan is expected in the spring and Historic England hopes that the vision for the city has progressed.

The next public consultation on the draft Local Plan is expected in the autumn. Historic England will be engaging with both to explain the role that heritage can play in regeneration and is encouraging anyone who lives, works or plays in the city to make their views known too.


Historic England has also been featuring another heritage site that has opened to the public and become an important visitor destination in the Midlands.


Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings is internationally important as its Main Mill is the world’s first iron-framed building (built 1796-1797) and is the forerunner to the modern-day skyscraper.

On 10 September 2022, 225 years after the Mill originally opened, the site opened to the public for visitors to learn more about its incredible role in the Industrial Revolution and the great contribution Shrewsbury and the Midlands have made to the world as manufacturers and innovators.


The complex, consisting of eight listed buildings, has been closed for the past 35 years. Following redevelopment under Historic England’s ownership with the help of architects Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, four of the listed buildings – the Grade I listed Main Mill, the Grade II listed Kiln and the Grade II listed Smithy and Stables - are now restored and the Main Mill is opening for the first time as a visitor destination – where people can come to celebrate and explore the site’s story.


Above: Shrewsbury Flax Mill restoration and adaptive re-use completed (FCB Studios)

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