Curzon Wharf Birmingham – World’s first mixed-use net zero carbon masterplan in a key quarter of Birmingham city centre
Woodbourne Group assembled Curzon Wharf through the acquisition of three separate adjoining sites over a period of three years – Motorway Trading Estate in 2016; Unit 7 (formerly part of the Motorway Trading Estate) in 2017; and Mill Wharf in 2019.
The extent of the proposed site is defined by the canal to the south, Mill Street and Aston Locks to the east, the A38(M) Dartmouth Circus roundabout to the north and Aston Road to the west. The land is currently referred to as the Motorway Trading Estate.
In November 2017, Woodbourne Group met with Birmingham City Council, to discuss the prospects of a major redevelopment and presented a scheme which covered the land to the north of Mill Street only.
The Council advised that the prospects of securing planning permission for the redevelopment of the site, would be increased significantly, if the land to the south of Mill Street (Mill Wharf), was included within the proposal to incorporate the canal-side to form a comprehensive masterplan.
Subsequently, Woodbourne Group acquired the land to the south of Mill Street (Mill Wharf) in Autumn 2019 and met with Council representatives again. The Policy Officer concluded that there was an exceptional justification in principle in support of the exciting masterplan being proposed.
Historically, the site and surrounding area comprised industrial buildings, including various metal, iron and gas works, situated on the north bank of Aston Locks and along the banks of the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal (built in 1789). The two listed roving bridges to the south of the site date from c.1789 and c.1828.
On mapping from 1817 by Robert Dawson, the site appears to be undeveloped. However, by the turn of the Twentieth Century, Ordnance Survey (OS) maps show that the northern part of the site was a mixed industrial and residential area, comprising Coldfield Ironworks, Mill Street Foundry, two malthouses, a sawmill, the Globe Works factory and a small amount of residential housing.
This was undoubtedly due to the site’s close proximity to the canal which provided easy access to the rest of the British canal network and the arrival of the railway at Birmingham station (now Curzon Street station), built in 1838. This made it easy to transport raw materials and distribute finished products.
The early 1900s saw the continued growth of Birmingham's manufacturing sector, with the city becoming a major center for the production of automobiles, motorcycles, and bicycles. The city was home to several major automobile manufacturers, including Rover, Austin, and Morris, which helped to establish Birmingham as a center for automotive innovation.
The decline of the horse-drawn coal barge in Birmingham in the 1950s gave way to the rise of new forms of transportation, particularly trucks and trains, for the transport of goods and materials. This shift was a part of a broader transformation in Birmingham's economy and transportation sector, as the city's traditional industries, such as metalworking and engineering, began to decline and new industries, such as electronics and plastics, emerged. The decline of the horse-drawn coal barge also paved the way for the redevelopment of Birmingham's canal system. While the use of the canals for transportation declined in the 1950s, the city recognized the potential of the canal system for leisure and tourism, and began to invest in its redevelopment.
The Dartmouth roundabout and surrounding road network dominate the site’s immediate setting to the north and east. The surrounding area is currently in a state of transition including development by Aston University to the south-west, Birmingham City University and an 11-storey office building (ref. 2019/10607/PA) just south of the canal and immediately opposite the site on Holt Street.
The world’s first mixed-use net zero carbon development in a key quarter of Birmingham city centre.
The waterfront ecosystem, to be called Curzon Wharf, will be within eight minutes walking distance of the HS2 Curzon Street Station, offering sweeping views of the city and beyond.