3 min read
12 Mar 2021

Green light for social housing on brownfield site at Smethwick


Stephen George + Partners (SGP) is delighted to see the start of construction of a new 24 dwelling social housing scheme on the site of a demolished pub in Smethwick, West Midlands.

Designing a mix of one- and two-bedroom apartments and two- and three-bedroom houses, SGP worked closely with developer Build Fifty5 Living, contractor Tricas Construction and Citizen Housing to create an attractive group of affordable rental tenure homes that responded to local needs and fitted well within the site and its context.

Close to the local shopping centre and adjacent to two major bus routes, as well as being within walking distance of the train station into Birmingham, the highly sustainable site was ideal for residential units.

Kumar Muniandy, Studio Director at SGP, explains: “It is exciting how we’ve developed the role of architect beyond design, taking a more pro-active view of potential development sites and how they can meet local needs.

“I keep a log of local sites I think have a strong development potential. The site on Thimblemill Road was a stand-out example – just over an acre of vacant, brownfield land, in a residential area and well connected to local amenities. Perfect to transform into a good-looking development that will meet the local need for quality social housing as well as offering Smethwick an aesthetically pleasing contribution to its form and distinctive character.”

Build Fifty5 Living, a leading project management and construction development company, worked with SGP on the initial research on local market needs, developed options and approached Registered Providers identified as a good match for the site. Kieran Danby from Build Fifty5 Living said: “The redevelopment of the former Thimblemill Pub site demonstrates how we identify opportunities that benefit from a fresh approach to design, procurement and collaboration.  Many companies had overlooked the brown field site but we saw an opportunity to galvanise a team together that could successfully overcome these challenges to deliver a 100% affordable scheme.”

SGP’s design adopts a broadly traditional approach, with a new, modern, aesthetic, which will give the area an uplift. Simplicity is key to settling the development into its surroundings. Using stripped back palettes in terms of both colours and materials, the buildings carry the theme of red brick and off/white render, with slate grey pitched tiled roofs and subtle grey windows and rainwater goods.

To deal with the slope of the site, SGP worked with Build Fifty5 Living to work with the challenging topography and designed a three-storey block on the lower part, with the two-storey houses stepped into the rising ground behind. The frontages face outwards, continuing the existing residential built form, set back, but creating an active and attractive street experience.

Key consultants were brought into design discussions early in the process, including contractor Tricas Construction who added significantly to the team’s ability to develop buildable options, particularly in balancing a tight budget with the need for a good quality end product.

The new development will be owned and managed by Citizen, a major provider of social housing in the West Midlands.

Executive Director of Development at Citizen Nick Byrne said: “It’s brilliant that work has started on this development on a site which has been unused for a number of years.

There is a need for affordable housing in this area and it will be good to provide this for people living locally.

We’re pleased to have worked with SGP, Build Fifty5 Living who unlocked the opportunity and look forward to seeing the development progress on site with Tricas Construction.”

SGP has been novated to the contractor, Tricas Construction and work begins on site in March 2021.

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