Digbeth’s burgeoning reputation as Birmingham’s ‘arts and media quarter’ has been given a further boost with the announcement that a new office development aimed specifically at creative businesses is to be built there.
Developer Blok Properties, which has offices in Stratford-upon-Avon and Liverpool, has commenced work on a £2.4 million scheme on Heath Mill Lane, adjacent to The Old Crown pub and opposite the Custard Factory – the landmark development at the old Bird’s factory.
Called Rhubarb, the building, which has been designed by Birmingham architects Bryant Priest Newman, will comprise 18 self-contained office studios, ranging from 360 sq ft to 860 sq ft, arranged over five floors.
Rhubarb will feature a number of sustainable modern methods of construction, including the area’s first ‘green roof’ system. The building is also designed to have a ‘low energy use’ resulting in reduced running costs and savings for its occupiers.
The studios are to be branded and designed around the company’s ‘blokwork’ concept, which is influenced by contemporary living rather than a typical office environment.
All studios are available to buy with prices starting from £89,000. Blok’s directors, Martin Saxon and Piers Harding, believe that this will encourage businesses to buy their own property instead of renting. Martin said: “Digbeth has a thriving creative industries sector and is fast becoming recognised as the largest centre for arts and media in Europe due to the proliferation of companies that are choosing to base their businesses there.
“The migration of companies to the area has, however, resulted in a lack of high quality, design-led office accommodation. Blok aim to deliver functional, and affordable workspace for the profile conscious and creatively minded business.”
Launched in 1992 with the help of a £800,000 Government grant and £1.6 million of private investment, the Custard Factory opened with a view to attracting the best of Birmingham’s young creative talent to a previously run down area of Birmingham.
Since the scheme opened, which incorporates office space around sculpture, fountains and green spaces, it has attracted dozens of creative companies and is also one of the city’s leading music venues, acting as the main driver in attracting other creative industries to the area.
Companies based at the Custard Factory include Tindal Street Press, Punch records and the Press Association.
Work on the new Rhubarb development is expected to be completed in January 2009.
Property consultants Wareing & Co. have been appointed as agents on the development.