Plans lodged for new canal-side 'community' in heart of Birmingham city centre

Proposals have been lodged for a new canal-side ‘community’ that could “celebrate the legacy” of a neighbourhood in the city centre if approved. The plans are seeking permission for a new development in Gas Street next to the Birmingham Canal Old Line, just a few minutes walk from popular spots such as Broad Street, Brindley Place and Centenary Square.

It is located to the southwest of the Gas Street Canal Basin, described by the Canal and River Trust as “the heart of Birmingham’s canal network where old meets new”. “The towpaths around this attractive basin are lined with bars, pubs and modern buildings and the traditional narrow boats moored here can be seen to form a unique experience where industrial heritage meets modern, cosmopolitan living,” the trust said.

If given the green light, the scheme would involve the demolition of the former factory and stable buildings, as well as the erection of a “purpose-built co-living development” and conversion of the toll house to provide 161 co-living apartments. According to a design and access statement, the development, referred to as Gather & Soul, could include communal kitchens and dining spaces as well as shared amenity spaces including a social lounge, co-work space, quiet lounge, games spaces, gym and flexible space.

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Those involved in the scheme said it could be a community “where the pulse of Gas Street thrives”. “Our diverse living spaces and inclusive events celebrate the legacy of this neighbourhood, and our interconnected common areas overlook the scenic canals, paying homage to the very waterways that define Gas Street,” it said.

The statement also suggests the co-living development could nurture a sense of community, promote inclusivity, prioritise well-being and offer “cost-effective options” for those seeking to live in the city centre by sharing expenses such as utilities and communal leisure. “It can cultivate a more robust, closely-knit community, enhance the quality of life for its residents, and contribute to the city’s continued expansion and future sustainability,” it continued.

The planning application adds that the scheme could contribute to the character of Gas Street and improve the public realm if approved. On the site itself, the statement goes on to say: “The buildings on site are in poor condition and vacant, and include a former toll house, former store/warehouse building and stable building.

“Whilst the former stables and toll house hold some degree of local historic and architectural interest, the interest of the central four storey section is very limited due to the amount of alteration that has occurred. “The site does not contain any designated heritage assets, nor does it lie within a conservation area.”

The restoration and reuse of the toll house is also “pivotal” to the scheme, the planning application says. “The proposals not only aim to bring the building back into an active use, it will also seek to restore its historical architecture and features, ensuring the building’s historical integrity is preserved and celebrated,” it said.

Out of the 161 co-living apartments, four would be within the former toll house. The planning application will be considered by Birmingham City Council ’s planning committee at a later date.

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