Assay office relocation to kick-start regeneration at St Georges

The St Georges Partnership has secured the relocation of the Birmingham Assay Office for its St Georges’ development in the Jewellery Quarter.

The Assay Office, founded in 1773, is to build a new headquarters on a plot of land at St Georges, incorporating a further piece of adjacent land recently acquired from Birmingham City Council.

The ambitious plans were unveiled at a Jewellery Quarter Association breakfast meeting at the The Rope Walk pub, St Pauls Square, this morning (20 October), where they were widely supported.

The deal was agreed between the St Georges Partnership, a joint venture between Jewellery Quarter-based Chord Investments Ltd and Coventry-based Deeley Properties, and Trebor Developments, representing the Assay Office. It facilitates the Assay Office’s move from its current 134-year-old home in Newhall Street, and secures the future of the organisation in the Jewellery Quarter, its natural home.

The joint venture partners will also build the new Assay Office, designed by Glazzard Architects. A planning application for the 45,000 sq ft premises will be submitted within the next few weeks, with construction work anticipated to start in Spring 2012.

The Assay Office’s new home will be bounded by Icknield Street, Pope Street and Moreton Street and will house its hallmarking operation, testing laboratory, gem certification and jewellery valuation activities. There will also be teaching and meeting facilities, a gift shop and public exhibition areas to showcase the Assay Office’s silver collection, which boasts works from some of Birmingham’s most celebrated silversmiths, including Matthew Boulton.

The deal is the first signing at St Georges, a 6.8 acre mixed-use regeneration scheme with planning permission for almost 230,000 sq ft of BREEAM ‘Excellent’ offices, more than 400 new homes, shops, bars and restaurants and a multi-storey car park.

The developer is also in talks with investors regarding 110 apartments proposed for Carver Street. In addition, detailed design and feasibility studies are being undertaken to create a 540 space multi-storey car park on Camden Street.

The former Swan kitchenware factory, the Kettleworks, also forms part of the site. The 230,000 sq ft BREEAM ‘Excellent’ offices are on the market with Birmingham agents DTZ and GBR Phoenix Beard. The building offers some of the largest floorplates in Birmingham – up to 50,000 sq ft – with plentiful on-site parking.

Geoff Shuttleworth, a director at St Georges Partnership and the in-coming chairman of the Jewellery Quarter Association, said: “It is no secret that the Assay Office was looking for new premises and that the business was keen to stay in the city, and specifically, in the Jewellery Quarter.

“Our team has worked hard with the Assay Office for the last 18 months to ensure that they remain where they belong.

“For St Georges it is a significant deal. Firstly, we will have a landmark building at a major gateway to the Jewellery Quarter. Secondly, the Assay Office will be the first new build on the site and will provide a significant boost to the regeneration of the remainder of the scheme.”

Peter Deeley, director of St Georges Partnership, said: “We look forward to working with, and delivering, a new building for the Birmingham Assay Office.”

The Birmingham Assay Office was established by an Act of Parliament in 1773. It is responsible for hallmarking precious metals from its current premises in Newhall Street, which it has occupied since 1877.

Michael Allchin, chief executive and assay master of The Birmingham Assay Office Group, said: “The move is all about securing our future for the next 100 years. The new building will enable us to work more cleanly and efficiently and grasp new opportunities more readily. This will be to the benefit of our staff, customers and the Jewellery Quarter. Our new Assay Office will be a significant asset to Birmingham.”

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