We have recently responded to the City Council’s plans for the redevelopment of Birmingham Smithfield, arguing that the focus should be on improving what the area already offers, with the retail markets serving as the main attraction.

As we think that Birmingham Smithfield should retain its individual character, we obviously opposed the move of the Wholesale Markets from the area to Witton. However, if this is to happen we have said believe the best use should be made of the resulting development.

We also have also said that any attemps to gentrify the area should be strongly resisted, in order to maintain affordable retail prices on fresh food and other goods, which the rest of the city centre does not offer.

We welcomed the Council’s plan to close Upper Dean Street to traffic and create a largely open-spaced, pedestrian area which would be enhanced by the walking and cycling routes that are planned.

We also urged the incorporation of green spaces –which the city centre lacks– to the development plans, mentioning the family-oriented aim of the plans.

Although we support the creation of affordable, good-quality housing in the area, we think it should be built in high density in order to make the most out of the available area while leaving enough room for public open spaces. We also asked for the buildings to be held to the highest environmental standards in terms of regulations.

Ben Mabbett, our Planning Campaigner, said: “we strongly support any plans to retain and enhance [the retail markets] within the Smithfield area, and feel this could provide a very valuable resource to Birmingham’s citizens, but also potentially be a visitor attraction in itself.”

“The market square should also be available for other market uses when the retail outdoor market is not in operation, such as offering space for flea markets, farmers markets, and small independent businesses, whose affordable and indispensable retail is a central feature of the traditional markets, should be provided with significant dedicated space […] enabling the Smithfield area to showcase the ‘best of Birmingham’.”

“Such street markets are common in other parts of the U.K and Europe, such as Amsterdam’s Albert Cuypstraat, Paris’s flea markets, and London markets such as Brick Lane. These markets all prove equally popular with both local people and visitors.”

For more information please read Birmingham Friends of the Earth’s Smithfield Visioning Response