Planning approved for Drum in Birmingham’s Grand Central

Our overhaul of a former department store in Birmingham’s Grand Central has received planning approval. The dynamic scheme for Hammerson adaptively repurposes vacant retail space to expand Birmingham’s commercial workspace offer and go beyond traditional office designs.


Our design centres on reusing and retaining as much of the existing structure as possible and embedding health, wellbeing and social amenity throughout the space. By opting for a refurbishment over a new-build, we’re saving approximately 14,000 tonnes of embodied carbon. Together with Hammerson, we’re targeting a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating, an EPC A rating, a ‘Gold’ WELL Standard for occupier wellbeing, and a ‘Platinum’ WiredScore rating to create a 2030 LETI Band A-compliant development for embodied carbon.

With 200,000ft2 of workspace to accommodate up to 2,000 people, Drum will be the best-connected place to work in Birmingham, with unrivalled access to trains and trams as well as excellent cycle and pedestrian routes that integrate with Hammerson’s wider Bullring Estate. We’ve worked closely with key stakeholders, including Network Rail, Birmingham City Council and West Midlands Combined Authority, to create a new commercial benchmark for the city and its businesses and workers.


We’re extending the former department store’s atrium to create a sweeping, open space that widens as it rises through all four floors, providing visual connectivity between the levels and drawing the eye up to the glazed rooflight above, which will bring daylight down through the heart of the scheme. The atrium will also lead to a new rooftop garden lounge, an important communal amenity that repurposes part of an existing car park. Green walls on each level will give the appearance of the garden spilling back down through the building.

By repurposing the ground floor gallery space, we’re delivering a rich amenity offer that supports collaboration and wellbeing for workers and the public alike. The 40,000ft2 space will complement the existing food and lifestyle offer in Grand Central, adding a combined hospitality space with a restaurant, bar and food market. In addition, we’re including a premium grocery offer, a fitness hub, wellbeing amenities, flexible conference and events spaces, and end-of-trip facilities for cyclists.


Harry Badham, Chief Development and Asset Repositioning Officer at Hammerson, said: “We welcome Birmingham City Council’s approval of our plans, with the decision a significant boost to Birmingham’s reputation as a city for business, one that is progressive, dynamic and setting the benchmark for others to follow across the UK. Drum is a great demonstration of how Hammerson’s creativity and a deep understanding of occupier needs can create assets that thrive by diversifying their purpose to accommodate an even greater range of uses and users.”

Greg Willis, Project Architect at Make, said: “It’s wonderful to have another project approved in Birmingham, especially one that exemplifies where we believe architecture needs to be heading – both in terms of sustainability and commercial workplace design. We’re excited to see Drum revive this space for a new purpose and push the potential of big box retail in the city centre.”


Drum stems from Hammerson’s strategy to reinvigorate its prime urban estates, including Grand Central, through diversifying uses while maximising the sustainable re-use of existing buildings.

Work on the transformation will begin later this year, with the potential for completion in 2025.

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