The final nail has been driven into the coffin of £150 million plans to regenerate Birmingham’s Irish Quarter, it has been revealed.
The 4.5-acre Connaught Square development site in Digbeth, just 200 yards away from Birmingham’s Bullring, is to be sold by Ireland’s National Asset Management Agency.
The proposed sale follows 18 months of uncertainty over one of Birmingham city centre’s highest profile schemes.
Asset managers at ROM Capital are said to have been instructed to offload the Connaught Square site, which had been earmarked for a £150 million scheme, comprising 658 apartments, a four-star hotel with sky bar and a new Irish Centre.
But restructuring and insolvency firm Begbies Traynor was appointed in June 2010 as administrator to Connaught Square, a vehicle of Irish-based company Naus Group.
The project was stopped in its tracks after Begbies Traynor was called in by backers Allied Irish Bank, which was owed £24 million by Connaught Square.
No buyer has since come forward for the scheme.
The site is next to Birmingham coach station and runs between Digbeth’s two principal thoroughfares, the High Street and Bradford Street.
It would have contained 1,000 underground parking spaces, two public squares that straddle the River Rea and public amenity space. Allied Irish Bank was to have funded the scheme.
The existing planning consent is now believed to be unworkable, and any buyer would be likely to opt for an entirely new and significantly smaller scheme.
Initial plans for Connaught Square were given the green light back in 2007, and would have marked a major transformation of rundown areas of Digbeth.
In addition to flats and a hotel, the scheme included plans for a pedestrian boulevard, providing access to two new public squares.
The project was also renowned for its promise to bring Birmingham’s hidden river – the River Rea – back up to surface level in Digbeth.