Digbeth Loc. Studios in Birmingham, the brainchild of Peaky Blinders’ creator Steven Knight, is officially opening next week, with construction on the site beginning this week.
The new studios are the result of Knight’s vision, alongside business partner, Time + Space CEO Piers Read. They plan to create a long-term cultural legacy for Knight’s home city by welcoming major blue-chip brands to the multimedia headquarters.
Initial construction works are expected to complete by 15th July, ready for occupation. The first filming onsite will take place in October, as Digbeth Loc. Studios officially becomes open for business from next week.
The £1.3m investment by Birmingham City Council, together with landowner Homes England and with support from the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), aims to mobilise the region’s £4bn Creative Economy, offering a flagship focal point to draw and inspire both local and international screen-industries talent.
It is anticipated the studios will contribute more than £30m to the local economy, creating 760 local jobs.
Digbeth Loc. Studios represents the first major television and film production facilities of this scale to be developed in Birmingham.
A range of productions are already committed to partnering with Digbeth Loc. Studios. These include the BBC drama This Town (made by Kudos, a Banijay UK company) – telling the story of the West Midlands’ ground-breaking ska and two-tone heritage – and the world’s most successful food format, MasterChef, produced by Shine TV, also part of Banijay UK.
An area of the new studios is also expected to be occupied by legendary Birmingham reggae band UB40, making it a wide-ranging, multimedia West Midlands home for upcoming and existing creative and cultural talent.
Knight’s project follows the international success of Peaky Blinders, which has put Birmingham and the wider West Midlands on the global cultural map. Since first hitting TV screens in 2013, the smash hit drama has been credited with a 26% increase in domestic visitors to Birmingham and a 19% rise in international tourists. It has also spawned a two-day festival, a nationwide dance theatre tour, an immersive show, escape rooms, a VR game ‘Peaky Blinders: The King’s Ransom’ and an official IPA.
Steven Knight CBE, said: “It’s so exciting that this day has come and after a lot of hard work by lots of people at Homes England, Birmingham City Council and the West Midlands Combined Authority.
“Our plans are ambitious and we will be making TV and movies on an international scale.
“We are planting an industry in the fertile soil of Birmingham and we need local people to make it happen. We have structures in place to begin the business of training local people in the skills needed and we want people to know that this is a viable industry that is here to stay.
“We’re setting up in the heart of, what was once, Peaky Blinders country and it’s very fitting that we are bringing it all back home.”
The landmark development will see disused, old Victorian era buildings converted into a modern, state-of-the-art studio complex, comprising three film studios, production offices and construction workshops; spanning 80,000 sq.ft of regenerated space in Birmingham’s Creative Quarter, Digbeth.
Located within seven-minutes walking distance of Birmingham’s train stations – including the planned HS2 terminal – the site sits within the Warwick Bar Conservation Area and will conserve the unique characteristics and heritage of Birmingham’s canalside buildings.
The site will be managed by Digbeth Loc. Studios Ltd, a partnership between Steven Knight and Piers Read of Time + Space, and has been enabled by £1.3m of City Deal funding for capital works; a bespoke deal between Birmingham City Council and Homes England to optimise the supply of commercially developable land. The initial funding will unlock further investment and the wider development plans required to bring the full studio complex forward.
Digbeth Loc. Studios is envisioned to play a catalytic role in the wider, regeneration-led reimagining of Digbeth. A range of public and private partners – including Stanhope PLC and Brydell Partners – will spend the next 12 months exploring how the area’s disused brownfield land could be transformed into a major economic and cultural centre.
Charlotte Moore, BBC’s Chief Content Officer, said: “Given the BBC’s commitment to grow production capability in Birmingham – it’s great to see the plans for Digbeth as the city’s Creative Quarter come to fruition. With the BBC HQ moving to the Tea Factory, MasterChef moving into the old Banana Warehouse, and now the Bond and Digbeth Loc. Studios opening – it’s a very exciting time for film and programme makers in the region.”
Cllr Ian Ward, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “We are making this investment into Digbeth Loc. Studios because the creative industries are fundamental to Birmingham’s golden decade of opportunity, following the extraordinary triumph of the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games.
“The Games shone a positive light on the city’s youth, energy and creativity and this exciting new multimedia destination in Digbeth will build on that success. Birmingham’s cultural star continues to rise, and we are proud to support Steven Knight as he leads the way in bringing world-class television and film production to the city.”
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “The unveiling of Digbeth Loc is a truly landmark moment. Steven Knight – Peaky Blinders creator and proud Brummie – has already done so much to put our region on the map and now these Studios will help to usher in a golden era for our burgeoning creative sector. We want broadcasters and content creators worldwide to know that the West Midlands is very much open for business.”
Peter Denton, Chief Executive Officer of Homes England, said: “Birmingham City Council and the West Midlands Combined Authority have a clear ambition to catalyse Digbeth. As the Government’s Housing and Regeneration Agency, it is our role to work with local leadership in the West Midlands to control appropriate land, to masterplan, to invest in infrastructure, and to convene incredible public private partnerships. In short, to make regeneration happen. We look forward to facilitating similar placemaking elsewhere in Digbeth, and across the country, with partners collectively delivering to the local communities we serve.”
Piers Read, CEO and Founder of TIME+SPACE, said: “As the former MD of the Custard Factory in Digbeth, ever since I left, I always wanted to be back, and this announcement today sees that dream become a reality. This is just the beginning. For us, it is all about making a place that provides the experience to producers providing the key amenities and creature comforts the modern-day production deserves. This is something TIME + SPACE has a proven track record of delivering.”
Neil Rami, Chief Executive of the West Midlands Growth Company, said: “Having worked closely with Steven Knight and the Digbeth Loc. team for some time, it’s hugely exciting to see work now underway on the studio development. This is an important vote of confidence in the nascent strengths of our creative community, our vision to create an environment that nurtures talent and will, no doubt, attract further inward investment into this sector right across the region.”
Sir Lenny Henry CBE, award winning actor and entertainer, said: “I’m so chuffed that Steven is all the way behind Digbeth Loc. Studios. The idea of a world beating studio based in Birmingham with the strong intent to create Brum based stories, mythologies and narratives is very close to my heart. Go Steve Go! Turn over and ….ACTION!”
Meera Syal CBE FRSL, BAFTA award winning actress and writer, said: “This is thrilling, game changing news and huge congratulations to the creative powerhouse, Steven Knight and his team, for the launch of Digbeth Loc. Studios. I am proud to be a supporter and hopefully a future contributor to DLS and look forward to celebrating the creative and cultural talent bursting out of our beloved Brum.”
Robin Campbell, UB40 founder member, said: “Digbeth Loc. is the most exciting development to happen in Birmingham for decades. It will invite talent, business and projects from around the world to the beating heart of the city, to work with Birmingham’s best. We can’t wait to get back to Digbeth, which was UB40’s home for 30 years and a huge part of our story. Our new offices and studio will continue that story alongside Steven Knight’s vision for the city, which we wholeheartedly support. The cultural capital of Birmingham will continue to flourish at Digbeth Loc.”
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