Birmingham’s Warwick Bar has been short-listed for a prestigious Waterways Renaissance Award.

The Digbeth regeneration project has been named a finalist in the ‘Innovation’ category, for its novel approach to returning life and engaging the community at the formerly derelict waterside site.

Warwick Bar is owned by ISIS Waterside Regeneration. Set in a conservation area off Fazeley Street, the 3.5 acre site is surrounded on three sides by the historic Grand Union Canal, Digbeth Branch Canal and the River Rea. The site includes a number of listed buildings, open wasteland, a concrete mixing plant, a steelworks and a rundown industrial estate.

Ambitious plans to develop the site have had to be shelved as a result of the recession. However, ISIS has worked with Colliers International’s Investment Property Management Team (IPM) and Media and Arts Partnership (MAAP) on attracting new tenants and developing an activities programme which has contributed to Warwick Bar’s growing reputation as an arts and cultural destination.

Rachael Lacy, Associate Director in Colliers’ IPM team, said: “The lettable space at Warwick Bar is now 94 per cent occupied and we have had more than 1,000 visitors to the site in the last year. The longer term plans for the site are exciting, but we are determined that the site will not be mothballed in the interim.”

Work undertaken at the site includes opening up the vista to the canal by removing a boundary wall; a facelift for the existing industrial units; programme of events, including tenant Edible Eastside (an urban growing project), Slow Boat, a youth arts programme run by the Ikon gallery from a narrow boat based at Warwick Bar, a summer fete and various arts programmes and workshops. 

The Waterways Renaissance Awards have been running for 11 years and recognise projects which transform the nation’s canals and rivers into exciting places.

Helen Carey, chair of the Awards’ assessment panel, said: “It is truly inspiring to see how people and organisations across the country are working together to protect, improve and care

for our canals and rivers. All projects reaching the finalist stage should be justifiably proud of all that they have achieved.”

The Awards are run by the Canal and River Trust. The winners will be announced on Thursday, 23 May, at Birmingham’s International Convention Centre.