business

Review of 2015 - July: Land Rover Defender, Christopher Wray regen and Google's boost for library

Land Rover revealed this month it would continue production of its Defender into 2016, a new future was unveiled for some of Birmingham's oldest houses and tech giant Google offered a helping hand to the beleaguered Library of Birmingham

Production of Land Rover's Defender was extended in July

Land Rover Defender production goes on

Production of Land Rover's legendary Defender is set to continue beyond the December 2015 cut-off originally planned by the Midland car-maker due to increased demand for the long-serving 4x4 vehicle.

In January, Land Rover announced a year of celebration to mark the final year of Defender production at its Solihull plant but high demand during the model's final year saw the new unveiled in July that production would be extended into 2016.

Land Rover was tight-lipped at the time about when Defender production would draw to a close, other than to say it had not yet announced a precise date.

But a Land Rover insider revealed it would be at least until February 2016, with the possibility it could be longer than that.

£15m redevelopment plans for Christopher Wray complex

Birmingham city centre's oldest surviving houses - dating back to the 18th century - were set to be restored under a £15 million development scheme revealed during the month.

The Georgian homes form part of the Grade II-listed Christopher Wray complex, in Bartholomew Row, near Millennium Point, which has been derelict since the well-known lighting firm moved out in 2003.

But now they will be restored and converted into offices after the plans for a mixed-use development, called The Emporium, were approved later on in 2015.

Google offers boost to Library of Birmingham

Technology giant Google announced it was launching a venture at the Library of Birmingham as plans gathered pace to build a new future for the £188 million building.

The Silicon Valley giant chose the landmark building as the first UK site for a groundbreaking initiative working with businesses called Google Digital Garages.

Part of the library, which saw its hours slashed in council budget cuts earlier in 2015, is to be given up for a new area offering digital training for the skills small- and medium-sized businesses need to thrive.

Coun Penny Holbrook, Birmingham City Council's cabinet member for skills, learning and culture, said Google's arrival was a shot in the arm for the library after 100 staff were axed and opening hours cut.

Curzon Street HS2 plan set for green light

The regeneration of Birmingham city centre reached a major milestone with the formal adoption of the Curzon Street HS2 Masterplan.

The plan for the future development of parts of Digbeth and Eastside surrounding the proposed high speed rail station was approved by the council's Labour cabinet during July.

Developments in the area are expected to create 36,000 jobs and boost the city economy by £1.4 billion per year. Land has also been earmarked for 4,000 homes.

It also proposes an extension of the Midland Metro into Eastside which has already secured £41.5 million Government funding.

New future for Summer Row bars after fresh investment

A group of city centre bars which appeared under threat of closure earlier in 2015 look set for a new chapter after securing investment.

Town and Country Inns, which operates Mechu, Fleet Street Kitchen and Après in Summer Row, said in May it had suffered a £400,000 drop in revenue as a result of roadworks connected to the £500 million ‘Paradise' project.

Bosses at the firm announced plans to open one of the city's first private members' club and launch new venues and unveiled a new-look board of directors which saw the founder leave the group.

Nosh and Quaff unveiled after £1m fit-out

The £1 million refit of a previously derelict Colmore Row building into one of the city's most prominent restaurants was completed this month.

Lobster and beer restaurant Nosh and Quaff, which looks out over the Grade II*-listed Council House and Victoria Square, was unveiled after being designed by Keane Design Associates.

The venture has been launched by the Lasan Group at 130 Colmore Row and added to a growing food scene in that part of the city.

Former city home of Eddie's rock club to be reborn as apartments

More city centre apartments were on their way to Birmingham after plans were lodged to demolish the former home of Eddie's rock club and build 73 new flats.

London-based investor and developer Romiga applied to knock down the old Birmingham United Services Club building and replace it with 43 one-bedroom and 30 two-bedroom units.

The site was most recently used as Eddie's rock club which relocated there after a fire destroyed its former premises in John Bright Street in 2006 but last year the venue closed so it moved across town to Tunnel Club in the Jewellery Quarter.

'Birmingham is not Beijing' warns councillor as Kettleworks scheme approved

Planning officers in Birmingham were accused of treating the city like the Chinese capital Beijing after they approved a Jewellery Quarter factory conversion with vast bike storage but too little parking.

Tory councillor Gareth Moore, speaking at a meeting of Birmingham City Council's planning committee, said he was concerned about Seven Capital's redevelopment of the Kettleworks building.

When completed, it will have 234 parking spaces of which only 112 will be allocated to serve its 291 flats, alongside 142 bike spaces.

Despite planning permission being awarded in July, Coun Moore said: "The parking situation again worries me. This is 38 per cent provision. I know they are including some bike spaces but this is Birmingham not Beijing.

"A lot of people who cycle still own a car and I have concerns we have a lot of city centre schemes without adequate car parking being provided."

Review of Year 2015 - January

Review of Year 2015 - February

Review of Year 2015 - March

Review of Year 2015 - April

Review of Year 2015 - May

Review of Year 2015 - June

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