The developer hoping to transform Birmingham’s landmark Central Hall into flats and offices has vowed the project remains on track despite its sales and marketing arm being served with a winding up order.
Leicester-based firm The Developments Factory, which is seeking planning permission to create 47 flats as well as offices and shops in the Grade II-listed building, has been served with a winding up order from property firm Knight Frank.
But The Developments Factory said the dispute over payment – understood to be related to a £30,000 sum connected to research work carried out by Knight Frank – would have no effect on projects such as the transformation of Central Hall.
The redbrick and terracotta building was originally built for Methodist gatherings, but has been better known to many in more recent times as the home of nightclub The Que Club.
Development management director of construction for The Developments Factory, Steve Jackson, said the winding up order only related to one of the group’s companies which handles sales and marketing.
“It’s totally separate to the project management and development side of The Developments Factory,” he said. “There has been a dispute with them for some time and we are taking further advice on this.”
He said the firm’s plans for Central Hall would not be derailed by the dispute and added, subject to receiving planning permission, work could start on the redevelopment in the summer months.
“It’s not affected – it’s all positive and everybody wants it to happen,” he said.
“We have had a lot of dialogue around the planning application, which is continuing.
“There have been some last-minute changes at the request of English Heritage.
“We are confident that we should obtain planning permission within probably the next two months or so.
“If we do, realistically our target is to get on site in the summer.”
He said he was confident the firm would be able to go ahead with its plans despite ongoing difficulties in the property market.
“As the market changes in the next year and a half, we feel that the lack of quality product coming to the market in the next 18 months will give us an opportunity.”
Any movement on transforming the building would bring cheer to the businesses already located in the ground floor of Central Hall, which have had to put up with scaffolding around their premises for several years.
William Noblett, who owns the French restaurant La Bastille, said businesses based in the area were fed up with the scaffolding.
“No work has gone on ever since they put up the scaffolding three or four years ago,” he said.
“It just covers up such a wonderful building – it looks just a mess really.
“We don’t get any light coming through the back window because of the scaffolding in the way and there are kids playing on it as well.”
Central Hall, which is opposite Birmingham Magistrates Court, was designed by Ewen and J. Alfred Harper at the turn of the last century and has been celebrated by local historians for its distinctive red-brick appearance and numerous decorative features.
The building has had a chequered history in recent years and conservationists are concerned about its deteriorating state. It was home to the Que Club nightclub for several years in the 1990s when it held large raves, and the club still occasionally staged events up until late last year after opening again in 2007. But the last few years have been dogged by violent incidents, including two stabbings in November 2009 nearby and a fatal stabbing the previous year.