The proposals – an overview

Contributing to the growing, leading academic centre of Birmingham, No1 Eastside Locks is a modern, high quality student accommodation scheme, sensitively designed to complement and enhance the Digbeth Branch Canal. The new development will provide an ‘on campus’ offer of student accommodation in close proximity to BCU’s new City Centre Campus project which is already coming out of the ground.

The scheme will be arranged over three main buildings which range in height from 9 storeys to 13 storeys. Adjoining these buildings are three wings with heights of 7, 7 and 9 storeys.

Three buildings with wings

Artist’s impression of No1 Eastside Locks

The proposals include:

Student accommodation

  • An ‘on campus’ student accommodation offer, 5 mins away from the emerging BCU City Centre Campus project
  • High quality student accommodation of approx. 730 beds
  • A mix of both en suite and non-en suite rooms with a provision of wheelchair accessible rooms
  • Rooms arranged in a mix of clusters (ranging from 4-7 en suite rooms) arranged to provide long distance views to the City Park and city centre skyline
  • Communal leisure and study areas for students within cluster flats with a shared kitchen/lounge
  • External raised courtyard space overlooking the canal towpath, accessible to students only and linked to the internal communal space
  • A single central reception will provide secure access for students to the accommodation along with the student leisure and amenity spaces

Indicative drawing showing internal communal space leading out onto raised outside courtyard.


Indicative drawing showing entrance way

Business start-up/‘Incubation’ units to provide affordable office/studio space

  • 3 new flexible business units located on the ground floor
  • Units to provide business accommodation to start up enterprises with a focus on supporting post-graduates to set up their own businesses
  • Units accessed from the new proposed road which will run alongside the canal

Example of what the retail space and business start-up/’incubation’ units could look like – creating activity at ground floor

New local retail floorspace

  • A small shop for use by on site students and businesses as well as local people
  • Located on the ground floor on the corner by Curzon Street
  • Accessed from the new proposed road which will run alongside the canal

Design Approach

Glenn Howells Architects are developing proposals that demonstrate the importance of No1 Eastside Locks as one of the gateways to the wider Eastside Locks masterplan. The design of the proposed student accommodation has been developed to sensitively reflect the surrounding area, with a focus on the significance of the canal and opening up the site as part of the wider public area:

  • Reflecting the shape of the canal side the three buildings have been designed to form a crescent with three distinctive wings facing out onto the canal
  • The buildings step down in height from the southern corner at Curzon Street
  • The proposed materials of aluminum, glass and brick are reflective of the canal side heritage
  • As part of the leisure and amenity space for the students, two raised, private courtyards are
    proposed which overlook the canal towpath, taking advantage of the views

Draft plan showing student entrance, two communal spaces and internal access route to three buildings and lifts/stairs


Draft plan showing clusters of shared kitchen/lounge/diner areas within student accommodation

Public Realm and Landscaping

The aspiration to increase the public realm accessibility and permeability of the neighbouring canal is a key feature of the wider regeneration of the Eastside Locks plan. The proposals for No1 Eastside Locks therefore build on this and assist in the long term vision by focusing on the presence of the canal and its environment. It uses this building as a cornerstone that seeks to unlock the opportunity and capitalise on this historic feature, providing level access for the public to utilise the canal side in a positive way.

By providing level access and designing an active frontage on the ground floor, the new scheme not only provides opportunity for a new active and sustainable canalside environment, it also provides the opportunity for improved safety by increased presence in the area and natural canal overlooking.

There will also be planting and landscaping along the canal roadside, together with sensitive and subtle treatments within the courtyards which will also serve to provide privacy to ground floor rooms.


Indicative drawing showing more use of the canal side with opened up access to the towpath


Indicative image showing more use of the canal side with opened up access to the towpath