Plans to add two storeys to a historic city centre office block have been stalled following complaints that it looks like a ‘UFO’ has landed on top.
Developer Abstract Land wants to add two stories to the 18th century Grade II listed Wragge and Co offices on Colmore Row and has proposed a modern rooftop.
But Birmingham’s planning committee refused to grant the application, which included partial demolition and rebuilding of the building’s Barwick Street side and a restoration of its historic banking hall.
Committee members were scathing of the rooftop which they claimed would ruin views of the Colmore Row Conservation Area.
Coun Barry Henley (Lab, Brandwood) said: “Development should preserve and enhance a conservation area, and this fails that test. This modern glass lump destroys the elegence of the facade and mocks other buildings in the conservation area. It looks like a UFO has landed on the roof. Agreeing to this would be a travesty.”
Coun Henley was also scathing of the proposal to replace the 1990s red brick extension on Barwick Street with a ‘glass curtain’. “It is a modernist monstrosity,” he added.
Only two of eleven committee members supported the design. Coun Bob Beauchamp (Cons, Erdington) said: “I am quite impressed. I find the rooftop modern and sympathetic.”
Birmingham’s conservation and heritage panel and English Heritage had both objected to the rooftop part of the development. Planning agent Geoff Wright said that the legal firm Wragge and Co was relocating to Snow Hill in 2013 and the owner of the office needed to modernise it and expand the floor space to attract another major tenant.
“It needs refurbishing if it to continue to be a prime office location for Birmingham,” he said. And added that the roof extension, would not be easily visible from the street below and is ‘less bulky’ than the Grand Hotel next door.
The application has been deferred for further consultation between the architects and the planning department.