Property Week Winner 2020 Developer of the Year

University Locks, Birmingham

Getting regeneration right
No1 City Locks was a derelict site alongside Birmingham’s Digbeth Branch Canal and part of the city’s Eastside Regeneration project. Any proposals for its redevelopment needed to not only complement the historic canal-side environment, but also contribute to the area’s regeneration, while both benefiting and causing minimum disruption to the local community.

With the new Birmingham City University (BCU) City Centre Campus project just five minutes’ walk away, Alumno proposed developing the building as on-campus student accommodation under the new name University Locks.

“Contributing to Birmingham’s academic stature, our successful proposal was to create modern, high-quality student accommodation, sensitively designed to complement and enhance the canal area,” explains Alumno’s managing director David Campbell. “Following the shape of the canal-side, the three buildings form a crescent with three distinctive wings facing out onto the water, and are built from Aluminum, glass and brick to reflect the area’s heritage.”

The new development provides on-campus living for around 650 students close to the City Centre Campus project, featuring both en suite and non-en suite rooms, with several offering wheelchair access. The rooms are arranged in clusters and provide views of the newly developed City Park and city centre skyline. There are also communal leisure and study areas for students within cluster flats with a shared kitchen/lounge. Meanwhile, a single central reception provides secure access to the building.

In line with Birmingham Council’s preference for mixed-use developments, the ground floor of University Locks has been dedicated to business start-up or incubation units, with the aim of providing affordable office and studio space for the local community. Plus, a small shop has also been incorporated into the building.

“As with all Alumno, University Locks is also professionally managed, allowing any noise or anti-social activity to be dealt with quickly,” says Campbell. “This includes specific ‘appointment’ times for when students can move into and leave the building to reduce disruption.”

With the students settled in their new home, University Locks is playing a key role in kick-starting Birmingham’s Eastside Regeneration scheme.

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