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City Conservatoire deal paves way for Paradise

£29m agreement sees final hurdle for redevelopment overcome

Birmingham Conservatoire

Birmingham Conservatoire is set to be knocked down as part of the Paradise Circus development after a £29 million deal was agreed.

Birmingham City University (BCU) has withdrawn an objection to plans to demolish the renowned music school after agreeing a settlement with Birmingham City Council.

Council papers seen by the Post show a deal worth £29 million was reached, including £12.4 million of council expenditure.

The demolition is a key part of the Paradise Circus plans to redevelop the area between Centenary Square and Victoria Square, drastically changing the foot-flow of that part of the city centre.

BCU and the council have been locked in talks for months, with the university seeking a deal sufficient to invest in a new building, although its plans are not known.

A spokesman for the university declined to reveal the value of the settlement but confirmed an agreement had been reached.


Birmingham Conservatoire's Adrian Boult Hall

 

He said: Over the past few months the University has been in close negotiation with the City Council to reach an appropriate agreement.

“We are delighted that a solution has been found, which, in the view of the university and our board, is satisfactory, and will secure the future of this world-class facility.

“The university has therefore withdrawn its objection to the compulsory purchase order and will not be making representations at the public inquiry.”

The agreement comes amid a Public Local Inquiry between December 10 and 19, and represents a major step forward for the council and developer Argent.

The Secretary of State will consider whether to confirm the wider compulsory purchase order and a decision is expected in the spring.

The value of the settlement – part of which is expected to be raised through the city centre enterprise zone, under which the city can borrow against future business rates – was revealed in council documents seen by the Post.

Birmingham City Council has previously said that BCU would have to vacate the Conservatoire by June 30, 2017, as long as it did not impede wider construction and demolition work.


An artist's impression of Ratcliffe Passage after the Paradise Circus redevelopment.

 

The authority has also said it would be prepared to make Louisa Ryland House immediately available as an alternative location for the Conservatoire. It is understood that the university has plans to take on more space in the city centre.

The Paradise Circus proposals, which will also see the Central Library demolished, are part of a long-term plan to open up 1.8 million square feet of office space as part of a mixed-use development.

The development will also include shops, leisure facilities, cultural and civic amenities together with a new hotel.

Argent director Rob Groves said the Conservatoire deal was the second major step towards work starting on the scheme.

He said: “Argent is very pleased that agreement has been reached with BCU and that their objection has been withdrawn. With the withdrawal of Millennium Copthorne’s objection as well, we are very hopeful that, subject to the inspector’s recommendations, the exciting proposals for the transformation of Paradise Circus will be able to proceed as planned.”

 

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