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Dec 2012

Work under way at Harborne scheme as professional team is announced

Work is under way at one of Birmingham’s most exciting new developments. Enabling works have started at The School Yard in the upmarket suburb of Harborne as developer EDG Property announces the appointment of its professional team.

Birmingham based K4 Architects is leading the design team on the mixed use scheme, alongside M&E engineers Jonathan Richards Associates , structural engineers Curtins and acousticians JRA Acoustics.  Eversheds and Presence Marketing are also providing specialist advice, while the shortlisting process for the main contractor is under way.

The building, which is prominently located on Harborne High Street, has long been part of the neighbourhood’s fabric and identity. Built in 1891, it first housed the local school before taking on a number of different uses, most recently as an adult learning and community centre. This is the first time in its history that the building will be comprehensively and sympathetically restored in this £5.5 million project.

Neil Edginton, managing director of EDG Property, said: “We know how important our high streets are, playing a vital role in supporting the local economy and as part of the community. Harborne is already home to a number of successful, independently owned businesses and we now have the opportunity to breathe new life into this beautiful, but derelict, Victorian building and add to this vibrant neighbourhood.

“This is a really special and important project for us and for Harborne and the surrounding areas – we must get it right. Announcing our professional team and starting enabling works are major milestones for the project and announcing our dream team is a great way to end the year. It sets us up to hit the ground running with construction early in the new year and, when we confirm our main contractor, we can press ahead with work onsite and hit our target to start tenant fit-out towards the end of the summer.  We all want to enjoy the new public square next Christmas.”

The plans for the scheme include restoring the original building and converting it into restaurant units and a cookery school. The designs incorporate many of the historical Victorian features of the Grade II listed building while adding a new contemporary building at the rear of the old school playground where the residential element will be located. The old and new will wrap around a central courtyard and public square.

Bob Ghosh, K4 Architects, said: “This is a golden opportunity to mesh old and new, bringing a local landmark back into community use and developing a building that is fit for purpose as well as being somewhere people want to spend their leisure time.

“Our designs are focussed on creating a “heart” at the centre of the scheme with a new publicly accessible courtyard in the footprint of the original school playground. This will provide a focal space for outdoor eating, speciality markets and seasonal events.”

Italian eatery Prezzo, which is teamed with signature chef Aldo Zilli, and local restaurateur Chris Kelly’s Metro Continental will be opening at The School Yard within the next 12 months. Kitchen School, a community cookery school, has also been secured. This foodie heaven will offer regular classes catering for the beginner cook through to artisan courses for cheese and bread making as well as drop-in cookery clubs and food/ drink related events.  EDG Property will be announcing more new tenants early in the new year.

Phase two of The School Yard will be unveiled after Christmas and will include the residential element of the scheme. It is anticipated that it will comprise a small number of high specification, new build apartments.