Ambitious plans are being drawn up to turn Snow Hill Station’s dreary car park into one of the city’s largest office complexes.
Early stage talks have taken place between Network Rail, Birmingham City Council, Ballymore and train operators over a ten-story office block and new concourse, a scheme thought to be worth £400 million.
The proposals include a grand new entrance into the Livery Street side of the station – opening up the Colmore Business District which is a key area for office development.
It is understood the plans are for an office block of between 500,000 sq ft and a million sq ft, and comes as investment in Birmingham’s office sector soars, with the likes of One Snowhill, Victoria Square and Alpha Tower attracting bids.
Parties involved say the current focus is on how much investment is needed, where the funding might be found and what may be possible under planning regulations.
But they are all agreed that Snow Hill is a sorry excuse for a mainline city centre station and Metro-Train interchange and something should be done if possible.
There is also political backing for a bold redevelopment in the heart of the city from the Labour leadership.
A Birmingham City Council spokesman said: “We are in discussions with Network Rail and the train operating companies that use Snow Hill, but it is very early days at the moment.
“Anything that would improve the station and make it more attractive can only be a good thing for everyone involved.”
The plans represent a long-term ambition for the council to redevelop the station which is considered a barrier to the expansion of the business district and through routes for pedestrians would be part of the redevelopment.
The development of an 800 space car park on the former Post and Mail site would also make the Snow Hill multi-storey surplus to requirements. The car park already creates congestion on Livery Street.
A spokesman for Network Rail confirmed it was looking at proposals.
“We want to see what may and may not be possible,” he explained.
Ballymore, which is responsible for the wider regeneration of Snow Hill, owns the development rights for the space above Snow Hill station, which currently includes the multi-storey car park.
The company has shelved plans for fourth plase of the Snowhill scheme, containing apartments and a hotel, but project director Richard Probert said if there was the desire for this work to go ahead the firm would be keen to be involved.
He said: “We are happy to support the city council and Network Rail as we explore future options for the site.”
London-based Alan Baxter Associates, which has previously worked on Ballymore’s Snow Hill development and the removal of the St Chad’s Circus roundabout, has been asked by the council to investigate the feasibility of rail station development.
Snow Hill has been earmarked as a key area of expansion in the Big City Plan, the planning document covering development of the city centre over the next 20 years.
The plan states: “Snow Hill Station acts as a physical barrier to the expansion of the business district. The redevelopment of the car park, giving access over the railway via ramps and escalator links through a new station concourse to Snow Hill Square, the new Metro extension and the wider area beyond will vastly improve connections.
“The improvements to pedestrian routes will establish vital, legible and necessary links to the Jewellery Quarter, the Gunsmiths Quarter and Eastside.”
Colmore Business District, the group which represents businesses in the area, said it would welcome an improvement to the area.
Director Rob Valentine said: “Colmore Business District is not aware of any firm proposals to redevelop Snow Hill Station. If firm plans were to come forward, we would be happy to see a project that improved Snow Hill Station as a gateway into the district, a transport interchange and a substantial piece of public realm.”
Snow Hill was developed by Great Western Railway during the 1800s and once rivalled New Street. But it was closed in 1967 and its grand Colmore Row building demolished two years earlier. The much less ornate successor station opened in 1987.