Designs for a landmark 18 storey Birmingham city centre apartment block have been branded plain and bland by city planners.

While one councillor feared that floor to ceiling windows would have privacy implications if some residents are ‘not caring’ about what they do on full view of neighbours.

The council’s planning committee was largely unimpressed with the look of the new high rise set to be built at the junction of Bristol Street and Essex Street on the city centre’s Southside district.

But their concerns over the design were not enough to stop the committee voting by eight to three in favour of approving the scheme.

The tower, from Warwick based developer Sandpiper Group, will include 68 apartments and stands on a key route into the city centre.

Committee member Fiona Williams (Lab, Hodge Hill) said that it looked more like an office block than apartments. “I’m worried about the floor to ceiling windows in a public area. Not everybody is caring about what they do.”

Her colleague Martin Straker-Welds, who quite liked the design, replied that residents could use curtains, plant pots and furniture to preserve their modesty.

CGI of plans to build 68 new apartments at the corner of Bristol Street and Essex Street
CGI of plans to build 68 new apartments at the corner of Bristol Street and Essex Street

There was some concern over a high-rise building in this area of generally low rise blocks but cllr Peter Douglas Osborn (Cons, Weoley) said: “It’s an area where we are going to have to build up in future.”

But he called for an improvement to the design: “A little bit of character could be added, it’s a little plain.”

Finally cllr Gareth Moore (Cons, Erdington), as well as describing the block as 'horrendous' bemoaned the lack of parking spaces for residents. “Some of the residents will have cars and they will need to put them somewhere,” he said.

Council policy states that no parking is needed for city centre locations where public transport links are good.

The location now

The development will be part seven storeys and part 18 storeys high and also count nightclub Chic and the O2 Academy concert venue among its neighbours.

Some of the existing properties on the application site date back to the 1860s but none of them are listed.