It was the most anticipated bar opening of the year but the Birmingham Mail can reveal that the owners of The Charter Rooms gin bar - due to open this summer - have stopped work on the project permanently.

Langley's gin producers Charter Brands' plans to renovate units in Great Western Arcade into an 'old school Victorian style saloon bar' have been axed due to "escalating costs".

The company is now looking for someone else to take over the lease.

Charter Brands first announced they were opening a lavish-sounding bar back in June 2016 - their first permanent bar - complete with a gin school and private events area on the first floor.

Behind the hoardings, builders had been working on the fit out and renovations over 1,700 sq ft of space, in keeping with the Victorian arcade's listed building status.

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An artist's impression of the forthcoming Charter Rooms Birmingham
An artist's impression of the forthcoming Charter Rooms Birmingham

The Charter Rooms was set to "embody the old-school salons and drawing rooms of the Victorian era, complete with darkened lighting, quirky layouts and traditional soft furnishings".

Originally due to open in March, the opening was pushed back to summer 2017.

At the time the bar was announced, a spokesperson said: "The fully stocked bar will, of course, serve up Langley's gin as well as other spirits, fine wines and bespoke and classic cocktails...We want to bring something really special to the city, whether you're ending a long day at work, getting your weekend off to a great start or having a refresh from a day of retail therapy. We can't wait to welcome you all."

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In an exclusive interview with the Birmingham Mail, Langley’s Retail Limited said: "There were delays in the opening of the bar which certainly isn't uncommon when converting space in a listed building.

Birmingham currently has one other Victorian gin bar - Jekyll & Hyde Victorian Gin Parlour on Steelhouse Lane

"However, we have now reached a stumbling block that we're unable to overcome with finance.

"The actual costs that we were faced with to fit it out versus the initial budgets we were shown and had worked to were a long way apart."

Langley's added that they tried and failed to raise the extra funds needed through private investment.

Great Western Arcade, by Antony Strafford.
Great Western Arcade, by Antony Strafford.

"We have no choice but to make a very hard and sad decision to close the project before further costs are incurred."

The two units, formerly Sims Footwear which has relocated elsewhere in the arcade and pop up More By Design, remains under contract to Langley's.

They told us they are currently looking for a "high-end restaurant and bar brand to take over the lease agreement as soon as possible".

"We are working really hard to try and find a brand that can take over our lease agreement and provide an equally high end food and beverage venue in the same location.

"The spot is perfect for a quality offering, especially with the initial investment and works that we have carried out with the landlords on this site. It's in perfect shape for someone to take it on."

Great Western Arcade is currently home to independents Anderson and Hill, Miss Macaroon and award winning wine merchants and tasting house Loki.

The Victorian shopping arcade also houses Sushi Passion and vegetarian eatery Bistro 1847.

Gin bars in the city include Gin Vault, 40 St Pauls and recently opened The Distillery.