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Review of 2015 - January: New student flats, start of £500m Paradise scheme and lifeline for Library of Birmingham

Our Review of the Year kicks off with the first of many stories in 2015 about new accommodation developments for students, the start of Paradise Circus work and a possible shot in the arm for the library

Central Library and the Paradise project dominated headlines in January and throughout 2015

New student tower planned near Birmingham Wholesale Markets

A city centre car park close to the Bullring and Wholesale Markets was earmarked as the latest Birmingham site to house student accommodation.

The car park, on the corner of Pershore Street and Upper Dean Street, was due to house two hotels and commercial space a few years ago but the entire project never came to fruition and only a Travelodge was developed.

New plans were lodged to build 323 self-contained studio apartments and 7,530 sq ft of commercial space across five units which could house shops, office accommodation, restaurants or bars.

The ten-storey development in the Southside district would involve the retention and incorporation of a listed building at 42-45 Upper Dean Street as the main entrance into the student block, parking for bikes and cars and landscaping.

Goodbye to Birmingham Central Library as Paradise Circus work starts

In what became an ongoing story throughout 2015 - and most likely for the next decade - our first report on the £500 million Paradise development was a look back at Central Library.

Roadworks moved into the area around Paradise Circus island as the groundworks kicked off which would eventually pave the wave for the demolition of the now defunct library.

Designed by John Madin, Central Library was completed in 1974 and was supposed to be a centrepiece of the city for decades to come

It ceased to have a purpose in summer 2013 when it closed a few weeks before the new £188 million Library of Birmingham was opened.

British Library could offer lifeline to Library of Birmingham

Having been hit with the news that opening hours for the Library of Birmingham could be reduced from 73 to 40 a week, the British Library said it could offer the building a lifeline and protect it from cuts.

A partnership deal between the Library of Birmingham’s and its counterpart in London was being discussed to offset a string of proposed cuts to services and staff.

The council's proposals were intended to save £1.5 million from its spiralling £10 million a year costs to run the library in Broad Street.

Arts and culture groups said that such cuts so soon after the library opened would be a huge embarrassment for the city.

Midland Bank building to become first Cosy Club in Birmingham

This year proved to be a vintage one for new openings of bars, restaurants and cafés around the city centre.

One of the first we reported on was a plan by Cosy Club to renovate the interior of the old Midland Bank building in Bennetts Hill.

It meant a new future for the building which was designed by Thomas Rickman and completed in 1835 and just the latest old bank in the city to find a new purpose.

Bristol-based Loungers, the company behind the Cosy Club brand, agreed a 25-year lease on the ground floor of the landmark building following the deal by city firm Real Estate Investors which bought the property for £1.5 million in 2014.

Tesco pulls plug on Monaco House redevelopment

Troubled retail giant Tesco scrapped plans for a major superstore on the edge of Birmingham city centre after a ten-year battle.

It brought to an end one of the longest-running "Will they, won't they?" regeneration stories Birmingham has ever seen.

Tesco had been locked in a store wars battle with Asda over planning permission for supermarkets on Bristol Street since 2004 and appeared victorious in 2013.

But chief executive Dave Lewis announced it would not be going ahead with the development on the Monaco House office block site.

It was among plans for 49 large store developments which Tesco decided to drop in the wake of a disappointing year while a further 43 unprofitable sites would be shut.

Jaguar to create 1,300 jobs with new SUV

Another busy year for Jaguar Land Rover kicked off with the news that around 1,300 new jobs were on their way to the West Midlands.

The company announced that a new Jaguar car, described as a practical five-seat vehicle, was to be built at the Land Rover factory in Solihull for launch in 2016.

The new car followed the 2015 launch of the Jaguar XE sports saloon, also produced at Lode Lane, which had seen several thousand new jobs created in recent years.

JLR chief executive Ralf Speth said: "The announcements once again demonstrate our commitment to the UK and the advancement of a hi-tech, high skilled, manufacturing-led economy."

University of Birmingham students protest vice-chancellor's £410k-a-year salary

Students at the University of Birmingham launched a protest to highlight a pay imbalance at the Edgbaston institute with a focus on the £410,000-a-year salary of its vice-chancellor.

The protesters said it took vice-chancellor David Eastwood 13 days to earn the annual salary of the university's lowest-paid member of staff.

In a protest organised by Defend Education Birmingham, they attempted to present Mr Eastwood with a giant fake cheque from the "Bank of Fat Cats".

Defend Education claimed Mr Eastwood was the highest-paid vice-chancellor in the UK, following a £10,000 rise last year, while academics nationally were involved in a pay dispute after being offered a pay rise of one per cent.

Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen's Magical Journey owes almost £900k to creditors

A local story which garnered national headlines, we reported that creditors of the failed Magical Journey festive attraction at The Belfry, which was created by TV star Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, were owed almost £900,000.

Accountancy firm Chantrey Vellacott was appointed liquidator of Magical Journeys following a difficult period for the festive attraction in the run-up to Christmas 2014 after it was deluged with complaints from angry parents.

The attraction, in Wishaw, was shut down amid complaints about Santa handing out unwrapped, cheap plastic toys and long queues for various attractions with some describing the experience as "far from magical".

Craig Povey and Kevin Murphy, insolvency partners from Chantrey Vellacott, were appointed joint liquidators with Mr Povey saying creditors were owed in the region of £875,000 following the early closure of the attraction in December 2014.

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