Plans for a new 13 storey office block have been given the green light by city planners - as long as it is well designed.
Developer West Register wants to demolish the ugly 1980’s built Peat House offices in Livery Street, next to Snow Hill rail station, and put up a £40 million modern tower block.
English Heritage raised concerns that the building would be over bearing, dominate the historic Old Contemptible pub, and too large for the Colmore Row conservation area.
But the council’s planning committee has decided that as long as the building is of a high quality design it will improve, rather than spoil, the area.
They have approved the principle of a tower on the site and now architects must come up with detailed designs.
Coun Barry Henley (Lab, Brandwood), chairman of the council’s own Conservation and Heritage Panel, said that the existing 1980s built Peat House office was so poorly designed it is the ‘reverse of good feng shui’ and said the Panel did not object to its demolition. “The building is so ugly no one wants to refurbish it.”
And he said the Panel are satisfied that a tower could be built on the site. “There is no reason why it shouldn’t be 13 storeys as long as it is elegant and well designed.”
The only planning committee member to oppose the proposal was Coun Peter Douglas Osborn (Cons, Weoley) who argued that it was a waste to demolish a building which is relatively recent.
He said; “I would question why it is in such a bad state that it cannot be put back into use.”
But Coun John Clancy (Lab, Quinton) said that Peat House ‘looks like a giant radiator. “Hopefully we’ll get something a bit more inspiring,” he added.
The plans are for the 13 storey block with restaurants or shops on the ground floor.
The scheme has won the support of Birmingham’s business community which says that city faces a shortage of top quality office space by 2016 unless developments like this go ahead.