Work surge predicted from China pact

Architects have predicted a work surge all thanks to a deal made between Birmingham City Council and Chinese developer, Country Garden.

The deal is set to bring new opportunities but may also carry risks, architects have said.

Earlier on in the month, Birmingham City Council leader John Clancy signed a joint statement of investment commitment with Country Garden aiming to bring forward new housing on large development sites. The area being described by the authority as being worth ‘up to £2 billion’.

Guangdong-based Country Garden specialises in ‘high-end township developments’ and has developed over 300 schemes across Australia, China and Malaysia.

Birmingham said it wanted to initially ‘explore large scale investment opportunities’ across the region, ‘with particular focus’ on regeneration and investment options related to HS2. It also identifies ‘deliverign significant new housing stock’ as a priority.

The authority is currently targeting the delivery of 89,000 new homes by the end of the 2031, and the previous week tablet a package of measures hoping to decrease landbanking and bringing vacant properties back into use to help it reach the figure.

Birmingham-based architects told the AJ that the new deal could kick-start the redevelopment of certain parts of the city that have been neglected and had potential to deliver against the council’s growth targets. Their main concern was the extent to which the vision for rapid delivery could be woven in with city’s existing fabric.

Senior lecturer at Birmingham School of Architecture and Design, Alessandro Columbano, was optimistic over the work pipeline related to the deal: “Undoubtedly there will be a lot of work for architects. It would be more sustainable and enriching for the city if work went to a range of smaller or younger practices as well as to larger or more established firms.

That would ensure a diverse range of ideas are explored to create a dynamic and sustainable urban environment for residents and young creatives in the city.

He also said there would be particular issues for accelerating development in the city centre and would include ensuring the quality of architecture was maintained, and retaining the character of the Eastside and Digbeth areas which still possess light industry alongside arts spaces.

The design challenges for architects will be how to try and stitch together all of these difficult sparse sites around Eastside,  bringing together existing communities with character and a coherent urban environment,” he stated.

Columbano also urged Country Garden and the city council to consider the inclusion of elements such as co-operative housing.


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