A leading business lobby has thrown its weight behind several major city centre projects which it said were vital to keep Birmingham’s developing momentum going.
Calling on city planners to hold their nerve, the Institute of Directors in the West Midlands said campaigners battling to save the NatWest Tower in Colmore Row and the Central Library should “keep their powder dry” for more important battles.
Chairman Richard Boot’s comments came after some members of Birmingham’s planning committee criticised British Land plans to demolish the NatWest Tower in Colmore Row and replace it with a 35-storey structure.
“The proposed new scheme would be an important statement by the city in the middle of a credit crunch – it is a major £160 million investment by an award winning developer which could create some 2,500 jobs and attract international organisations to the city.”
He also called for support to replace the Central Library, adding: “Those who consider that buildings such as the library and the NatWest Tower are suitable for consideration for listing would do well to keep their powder dry for more important battles that may need to be fought to preserve Birmingham’s important architectural heritage.
“The £17 billion rolling programme across the whole of Birmingham is a vital economic factor in helping the city to ride out the current slowdown. Here we have schemes ready to go in a climate that has already seen a number of victims and as a city we need to hold our nerve and carry on with the schemes that are committed and solidly funded while other projects elsewhere may be delayed or shelved.
“The impact on jobs in the construction industry and the city’s economy as a whole could be extremely beneficial in helping us ride out the tough times ahead.”