Vision for Birmingham's Snow Hill public realm takes shape

Broadway Malyan has completed a public realm masterplan for the Snow Hill area of Birmingham in the first stage of a project to transform the city's business district.

Snow Hill reimagined. Image: Broadway Malyan
Snow Hill reimagined. Image: Broadway Malyan

The aim for the public realm is to put "pedestrians and cyclists first and at its heart" and deliver spaces which are able to host a variety of activities, add value for tenants and attract further investment. Green infrastructure and pocket parks are part of the vision.

Snow Hill stretches from Steelhouse Lane to Victoria Square. Broadway Malyan has identified six project areas that will now go forward for detailed design development: Colmore Row, the junction of Colmore Row and Newhall Street, Cornwall Street, the south end of Church Street towards Colmore Row, Barwick Street and Steelhouse Square outside Colmore Plaza at the top of Steelhouse Lane.

Broadway Malyan director Danny Crump, who is leading the professional delivery team that also includes SYSTRA, WYG and Hoare Lea, said the completion of the public realm masterplan laid down an important framework that established street typologies that could be implemented across the study area.

He said: "Each of these areas have their own character and characteristics with different needs and opportunities to improve the public realm and having completed the strategic plan we are now able to develop each area further and refine concepts while adhering to a consistent set of design principles.

"We are looking at initiatives that will completely reimagine the Snow Hill area by moving away from vehicle dominance and putting pedestrians and cyclists first and at its heart.

"Ultimately this will include the introduction of some new public spaces and pedestrian priority areas, new green infrastructure, pocket parks, new street furniture and general decluttering as well as encouraging businesses to spill out and occupy a more vibrant streetscene, helping to add value to the Snow Hill Area while creating a more interesting and energetic street environment."

Colmore Business Improvement District (BID) projects manager Mike Mounfield said the project was a once-in-a-generation opportunity to radically improve the experience of people who work, live and visit the Colmore area. 

"We are currently building a coalition of property owners interested in supplementing the programme funding to make sure all these transformational projects go ahead."

Birmingham City Council leader John Clancy said improvements to the public realm in the area, "an important gateway into the city centre" were long overdue and would help attract inward investment, jobs and economic growth.

The detail design stage of the project is likely to take up to 10 months with work potentially starting on the first project in late 2017.

An early delivery phase of the £10m project, which is being funded by Birmingham LEP’s Growth Fund subject to a full business case following an application by Birmingham City Council and Colmore BID, will see significant improvements to the square outside Snow Hill Station including traffic calming, new street furniture and tree planting alongside the development of a new underground restaurant.

Broadway Malyan won the contract to work on the Snow Hill project in May 2016. The practice, which has 16 studios worldwide, also worked on a public realm project for Chester which included a 30m green wall and completed last year. 


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