Construction work has commenced to convert the historic Banana Warehouse building in Digbeth into a state-of-the-art studio, which will play host to the world’s biggest cooking format, MasterChef.
The ambitious plans are being brought forward by development company Digbeth Loc Limited, owned by Brydell Partners. Stanhope is acting as development manager and Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight will be the asset manager. BAM is the lead contractor carrying out the works on land at Fazeley Street owned by Homes England.
Under the plans, Digbeth Loc. Limited will convert the abandoned Grade II listed warehouse at Fazeley Street by the Grand Union Canal into a studio and filming area. The sensitive designs by Digbeth-based architecture practice BG Projects include a new modern extension which will reflect the original design of the historic warehouse, used for shipping in the 1800s.
The film studio is the first step in a wider masterplan which will see the regeneration of the 20-acre Warwick Bar site into a thriving creative quarter including over 900 new homes. The studios are set to support 750 local jobs and are hoped will act as a catalyst for further regeneration in the area. The creation of the new Digbeth film studio comes as the BBC moves forward with plans to move their Birmingham HQ to Digbeth in a purpose-built broadcast centre which will be known as The Tea Factory.
Construction is set to complete in autumn 2024 and the BBC and MasterChef producer Shine TV (part of Banijay UK) will commence filming at Digbeth Loc Studios. The ambition is for all MasterChef series to be filmed in Digbeth for the foreseeable future. Moving the MasterChef brand and its four titles to Birmingham is part of the BBC’s Across the UK strategy, getting closer to audiences to better reflect, represent and serve all parts of the UK.
Peter Denton at Homes England said: “The restoration of the Banana Warehouse secures an exciting future for a building that is a key historical asset. We are very pleased that this work will bring a major TV production to the heart of the West Midlands, creating unparalleled new opportunities, jobs and investment. It is a transformational achievement, and we look forward to continuing to work with our partners to realise the opportunities that Digbeth has to offer.”
Steven Knight said: “To be digging ground in Digbeth for the new home of MasterChef is the realisation of a long held dream that world class TV and film production will come and thrive in Birmingham. Since the move was first announced, Digbeth Loc. Studios have secured some phenomenal franchises and with the new BBC HQ on our doorstep we can confidently say Digbeth is the new big everything for content production.”
Alistair Shaw, Development Director at Stanhope, said: “We pleased to have got the first spade in the ground and get work underway to restore a listed jewel in Digbeth to its former glory. The refurbishment of the old Banana Warehouse is an important first piece in a bigger mission to sensitively transform the Warwick Bar area and to develop a new creative quarter on the canal side. Not only will the new studio play host to the distinguished MasterChef brand, but it will kickstart a wave of jobs and investment in this growing sector, which will benefit the city.”
Birmingham City Council leader Cllr John Cotton said: "We can't wait to welcome MasterChef production to Birmingham and the BBC decision to move such a high-profile programme to Digbeth is a massive vote of confidence in our burgeoning creative sector. With MasterChef, the new BBC HQ, and the recent opening of Steven Knight’s Digbeth Loc. Studios, Birmingham is really making its mark."