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College plan to shut Jewellery Quarter street slammed by councillors

University College Birmingham wants to close Holland Street during opening hours to ensure safety of students

UCB development - plan to enclose Holland Street
UCB development - plan to enclose Holland Street

A college plan to shut off a street by day for the exclusive use of students has been slammed by councillors.

University College Birmingham has unveiled the proposal to enclose Holland Street as part of its plans for a new £90 million campus in the Jewellery Quarter.

Birmingham City Council’s planning committee was told that anyone wanting to use the road during college's opening hours would need to be passed through by security. The measure is designed to protect students, some of who are as young as 14.

The road would be rebranded as Skills Street and lined with cafés and coffee shops.

Committee member Peter Griffiths (Lab Kings Norton) said: “It is using a sledge hammer to crack a nut. The road will have coffee shops, they would want members of the public to have access.”

He also suggested the glass roof over the street resembled a shopping mall and should instead be arched, perhaps like Paddington Station.

Proposed UCB development: Artist's impression of the view from George Street
Proposed UCB development: Artist's impression of the view from George Street

Coun Gareth Moore (Con Erdington) suggested they should just have secure buildings, not the entire street and that having people passing by would make it safer for students.

Coun James McKay said: “Pedestrianisation is one issue but this is ending a public right of way.”

Bob Beauchamp (Con Erdington) added: “It’s sad to lose a street which is well used. It is not as if it's 10 Downing Street.”

The committee was told the street would be open at weekends and evenings and could host farmers' and craft markets.

Vice-chancellor Prof Ray Linforth said the college was rated as ‘outstanding’ because it took the safeguarding of vulnerable pupils seriously.

He said: “Outside our college hours, the public will have unfettered access.”

Earlier in the meeting, he said: “This is a new campus to deliver a 21st century learning environment for our students.”

Designs for the new UCB multi-storey car park in George Street, Jewellery Quarter
Designs for the new UCB multi-storey car park in George Street, Jewellery Quarter

This is the second phase of development following the completed McIntyre House, with a total investment of £90 million.

The committee was otherwise generally supportive of the development, which includes the retention of the historic Art Deco frontage of the James Cond building in Charlotte Street.

The development includes lecture rooms, a restaurant, training rooms and a sports hall in two newly constructed buildings alongside a multi-storey car park and courtyard.

The comments of councillors will be considered by the college before the application goes to committee for final approval later in the year.

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