Enriching Digbeth with Cole Waterhouse

Background

BECG was appointed to provide political, stakeholder and community engagement services for Cole Waterhouse’s £260m Upper Trinity Street (UTS) cultural, commercial and residential scheme in Digbeth, Birmingham. The landmark 5.11 acre development will see the existing industrial land transformed into a cultural, commercial and residential scheme including a new one acre public park called Pump House Park. 

The scheme received unanimous approval from Birmingham City Council’s Planning Committee in July 2021. 

Key project information  

The plans include 943 new homes, some with live-work space and roof gardens, a 133-bedroom hotel, 60,000 sq. ft of flexible commercial space, car parking and a new one-acre community park with a network of landscaped yards, squares and hidden spaces.  

How we assisted 

  • Stakeholder mapping and engagement 
  • Community consultation and engagement  
  • Statement of Community Involvement  
  • Political engagement including site visits 
  • Planning Committee engagement  

Working as part of a strong team, BECG was tasked with leading the political, stakeholder and community engagement for the project.  

This included initial stakeholder mapping and engagement with local businesses, politicians and key individuals across the city. This resulted in very early engagement with the Council Leadership and the West Midlands Mayor.  

BECG worked with partners as part of the project team to deliver a community consultation that was not just sensitive to the heritage and cultural history of Digbeth but was also understanding of the future aspirations of local people and business owners. We discarded the notion of a traditional public exhibition and booked a local music venue in the heart of the Digbeth creative hub to present the vision for the site and draw people into the conversation.  

Our team set out into the local community to record vox pops with local businesses, to understand what Digbeth means to them and what future development needs to consider, to stay true to the area. The vox pops were impactful and strengthened the exhibition and project website. The community event itself, introduced many innovative and creative features. This included a large walk-on floor vinyl of the regeneration site map, archive footage of the areas industrial past playing on a projector and a local artist performing a live illustration of Digbeth, with our proposal nestled amongst it. 

BECG then produced the Statement of Community Involvement and continued to support the project team with stakeholder engagement right through to determination. We organised visits to the site from senior politicians in the city, including the Leader of the Council, Deputy Leader of the Council, Cabinet Member for Homes, and the Mayor of the West Midlands. All of whom provided video interviews in support of the scheme which were then released in the run up to the Planning Committee. 

Outcome 

  • 86% of visitors to the public exhibition found the event ‘very informative’ 
  • Site visits and public endorsement from the Council Leader, Deputy Leader, Cabinet Member for Homes, and the West Midlands Mayor  
  • The scheme received unanimous approval from the Planning Committee 

Having BECG involved, and having their political engagement, has been very important. BECG has been able to get us down here in front of senior politicians. It’s been fantastic, so a real credit to them.

Rod Priestley, Chief Operating Officer of Cole Waterhouse

 

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