The University of Birmingham has been urged to restore and renovate one of its historic listed buildings before it is lost to the city.

Planning committee members, historians and conservationists are worried that The Close, at Westhill College, in Bristol Road, Selly Oak, is being left to rot after lying empty for ten years.

They fear a repeat of the arson attack which claimed the university-owned Northfield Manor House and led to its demolition.

But the university insists a rescue plan is now being developed and repairs are routinely carried out.

The Close, a row of houses built in 1911, is grade II-listed after a recommendation by Historic England.

It describes them as “an effective group of three buildings on the south side of a green. Arts & Crafts cottage style with a particularly mellow red brickwork”.

The Close in Selly Oak, Birmingham.
The Close in Selly Oak, Birmingham.

Planning committee member Peter Douglas Osborn (Con Weoley) said: “These buildings have been boarded up and are in quite a frightful condition.

“It is coming up to ten years they have been boarded up, we are losing part of our heritage.”

Historian Prof Carl Chinn added: “I have been saddened to see these splendid buildings boarded up, unused and deteriorating.

“Something positive must be done soon with regard to refurbishing the buildings sympathetically and sensitively and to bring them back into use.”

Chairman of the city’s conservation panel Fiona Williams said she too was concerned.

A spokeswoman for the university said the building was being maintained and protected and a use would be found.

The Close in Selly Oak, Birmingham.
The Close in Selly Oak, Birmingham.

She said: “The university is investigating a number of options to bring The Close back into beneficial use.

“In the meantime, we have secured the site and continue to make regular inspections to ensure it remains safe.

“When these inspections reveal repairs which are needed, we carry these out as promptly as possible.

“The Close is located on our Selly Oak campus and as such is covered by our 24-hour security patrols along with all other university buildings.”

The council’s head of planning, Richard Goulborn, said that his conservation officer would be talking to the university.