The owner of an art gallery in the heart of the Jewellery Quarter is set to take legal action against a developer he says turned the area around his business into a “bombsite” while building one of the city’s most exclusive new apartment blocks.
Symon Bland, the proprietor of the St Pauls Gallery, said the company behind the St Pauls Place flats told him work would last just 18 months.
But nearly five years on, work is still taking place on the city centre apartment block, and the apartments have only just been put on the market.
And Mr Bland said the gallery had lost a “significant” amount of trade because of the disruption caused by scaffolding, site traffic and building materials on the quiet streets off St Pauls Square.
He said: “We are on a corner of the site, hemmed in, and during the construction we noticed a downturn in footfall. It was meant to be an 18-month build and we are now into the fifth year.
“The way we have been treated in terms of a lack of communication is appalling – there’s been no concern shown at all to our business’s existence.
“We originally thought that the external works were finishing when the scaffolding came down. But then suddenly the scaffolding went back up again.
“I can’t comment as to the amount of trade we’ve lost out on, but it’s sizeable.
“Pavements were often blocked with pallets or cement, it was wholly unsightly. We were besieged, and we looked like part of the development.”
The gallery is on the corner of the street at the back of the development used for main access by builders, meaning access for customers was curtailed.
Mr Bland said at one point the street outside the gallery had to be closed on Saturday – its busiest day of the year – so the crane on site could be dismantled and removed. He said he had made ‘numerous’ complaints to the Health and Safety Executive over danger fears and damage to cars.
In 2009 Chord made two payments to the gallery for damage caused to party walls and drains by the constructors.
The gallery is currently in pre-litigation correspondence with parties over the loss of earnings.
The £35m St Pauls Place apartments on the Jewellery Quarter square were planned by developers Chord, who contracted the building work to construction firm Costain.
There are 148 apartments in the 26,000 sq ft building. When flats went on sale earlier this month the developers hailed it as the “resurrection of Birmingham’s city centre residential property market”
The building opens directly onto St Pauls Square, and includes the facade of former buckle maker Thomas Walker.
Chord blamed the delays in completing the flats on “contractual issues” with Costain.
It said it could not comment on the legal action, or on the contractual issues because both were still ongoing.
But it claimed that the gallery had stayed open for normal hours during the building work.
Other businesses in the area said they had problems during the development of the flats.
One business owner, who did not want to be named, said: “It’s been a right menace to the area.”
Another resident of the block the apartments were built in is award-winning restaurant Lasan, which is next to the St Pauls Gallery.
Proprietor Jabbar Khan said there had been issues during the building, but that they had come to an agreement with the developers.
He added: “There have been problems but they have compensated accordingly. Unfortunately I know that our neighbours might have suffered more than others.”