The £450 million transformation of Birmingham’s Paradise Circus site will create a ‘new beating heart’ for the city centre it has been claimed.
Proposals to demolish the 1974 built Birmingham Central Library, remove the subterranean roundabout underneath and build new offices, shops and public squares have been unanimously backed by the council’s planning committee.
It also rejected a last ditch plea to save the Central Library, designed by architect John Madin, and adapt it for modern use.
But the planning committee gave the proposals from Argent, the developer responsible for Brindleyplace, an enthusiastic welcome.
Coun Peter Douglas Osborn (Cons, Weoley) said he was delighted that the city was ridding itself of the ‘inverted incinerator’ - a reference to Prince Charles’ claim the Library resembled a place for burning books rather than reading them.
“What we are being offered here is a new heart for Birmingham. This is not a transplant but a brilliant new heart,” he added.
Committee members raised minor concerns over the impact on traffic flow with the removal of the roundabout, but were told that a similar project at St Chad’s circus had been a success.
There was also praise for the opening up to pedestrians of wide open walkways between Centenary and Chamberlain Squares.
Argent’s senior project director Rob Groves said: “The redevelopment of Paradise Circus has the potential to make the most significant impact on the city centre for a generation.
“The site’s combined qualities of its central location and historic landmarks creates an unrivalled opportunity to create a sustainable, first class environment that will transform this key part of Birmingham city centre.”
Paradise Circus is the first development to move forward within Birmingham’s new Enterprise Zone with approval for an investment of more than £60 million into the required infrastructure changes to support the initial launch of the development and drive the regeneration which is set to create thousands of jobs. Mr Groves said the latest progress followed four years of investigative work.
“There is no denying it is an incredibly complex site and there is a good reason why it is a site that has been without regeneration for a number of years,” he explained.
“But in terms of its location we would say it is one of the biggest and best commercial development locations anywhere outside London.”
But Alan Clawley, of the Friends of the Central Library, said: “The Library is entirely capable of being refurbished for a new use.
“You need only look at the Mailbox, the Rotunda, the Ikon Gallery and Fort Dunlop to see how developers and architects can refurbish and find exciting new uses for old buildings.”
He added that the Chamberlain Square memorial would be completely overshadowed by the proposed new buildings.
Coun Paula Smith (Lib Dem, Hall Green) added: “Our motto as a city is ‘forward’, and this is taking Birmingham forward.”
Area: Birmingham city centre
Investment: £400 million
Status: Planning approved
- This article is part of the Birmingham Skyline 2014 supplement produced by the Birmingham Post