Business

Review of 2017 - January: Commonwealth Games, green belt housing and Colmore Row makeover

Our Review of the Year for 2017 kicks off with the news London Olympics bosses were recruited to help Birmingham secure the Commonwealth Games and Sutton residents were battling developers

CGI of how a revamped Colmore Row could look under plans unveiled in January

London Olympics bosses to advise on Birmingham's 2026 Commonwealth Games bid

Architects of the London 2012 Olympics were brought in to advise Birmingham on what it takes to host the Commonwealth Games.

Sports consultancy Origin Sport Group was lined up by city chiefs to carry out a feasibility study into Birmingham's ability to bid for and host the 2026 Commonwealth Games.

Three members of the study team all worked on the London 2012 Olympics as well as other global sporting events.

Later in 2017, Durban was stripped of its position as 2022 Games host so Birmingham stepped in and was officially awarded the right to host them instead in December.

Last ditch legal attempt to block green belt housing in Sutton Coldfield

Campaigners in the north of the city were mulling over a last ditch legal bid to block plans for up to 6,000 homes on green belt land at Sutton Coldfield.

The Project Fields campaign group was consulting lawyers over a potential judicial review or other legal challenge to the new Birmingham Development Plan.

By far the most controversial element of the plan had been the proposals to put 6,000 homes and a large industrial development on green belt land to the east of Walmley, in Sutton Coldfield.

The plan also identified sites for 45,000 homes within Birmingham's built up area but the campaigners fear that the highly lucrative Sutton Coldfield green belt sites at Langley and Peddimore will be developed first.

New designs unveiled for Colmore Row makeover

New images showing how a revamped Colmore Row could look were released this month as more details emerged over the potential future of Birmingham's premier business address.

The new designs hinted at wider pavements and a more pedestrianised feel with no raised kerbs, as can be seen throughout New Street.

In addition, details of the first six project areas planned by the development team behind the scheme were revealed.

Colmore Business Improvement District and Birmingham City Council first announced plans in May 2016 for a £10 million revamp of the square outside Snow Hill station and a makeover for Colmore Row.

City's most popular arts venue tackling 70 per cent funding cut

Birmingham's most popular arts venue vowed to carry on providing free and low-cost events despite seeing its council funding cut by 70 per cent over two years.

mac Birmingham, based in Cannon Hill Park in Edgbaston, saw its annual subsidy cut to £120,000 a year from April 2017, down from £540,000 at the start of 2016.

It was also told the council was cutting its hire of the venue for meetings and events, hitting mac's income by a further £100,000 a year.

Chief executive Deborah Kermode said in January: "We appreciate the difficulties the city council faces (but) a cut of this magnitude will be felt and as a result we will need to review our current services and partnerships moving forward."

mac Birmingham was battling funding cuts in January

 

Former asylum seeker hostel to be transformed into plush hotel

The owners of a historic Birmingham hotel pulled the plug on its use as a hostel for asylum seekers ahead of a major expansion and refurbishment.

The Paragon Hotel, in Moseley Street, had previously been used to house up to 230 asylum seekers, mainly single young men, which had prompted complaints from locals.

Its owner, the Iraqi El-Akabi family, were gearing up to invest in a multimillion-pound overhaul of the hotel to restore it to its former glory and add 99 rooms in two new extensions.

The Victorian, Gothic-style six-storey hotel was built in 1903 as Rowton House - owned by Lord Rowton - to provide decent hostel accommodation for migrant workers arriving from Ireland to toil away in Birmingham's factories.

Snow Hill Midland Metro stop gets a new name

A Midland Metro stop in Birmingham city centre was sporting a new name in January.

The Snow Hill stop, next to the station sharing its name, was rebranded as St Chads by West Midlands transport chiefs.

The move was made by Transport for West Midlands because the stop's name was causing confusion among passengers who were disembarking there in order to access the railway station.

In order to facilitate the extension to New Street station, the tram was unable to run directly into the main Snow Hill station as it had done previously so a new stop was built outside.

Newly named St Chads Midland Metro stop

 

Tony Iommi reveals why he has ditched heavy metal for choral work

The man known as one of the godfathers of heavy metal took a new musical turn this month.

Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi revealed he had recorded some haunting choral music with the Birmingham Cathedral choir and cellist George Shilling.

The five-minute-long How Good It Is, inspired by Psalm 133, premiered at the cathedral in front of a specially invited audience.

Mr Iommi said: "It's a bit different to Sabbath. We've done instrumental work before with orchestras and it's something I enjoy doing but this is completely different."

Brutalist Smallbrook Queensway building approved for demolition

City planners backed a project which will see a link bridge torn down and new apartments built.

The decision will see the sweeping concrete-clad Ringway Centre, in Smallbrook Queensway, partially demolished and reclad and a 26-storey tower block added in a major £70 million redevelopment.

The project was opposed at the time by members of the Brutiful Birmingham group which campaigns to retain the city's distinctive post-war architecture.

But the city council's planning committee was scathing of the collection of 1960s buildings.

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