While the debate continues over the future of Eastside, one landmark in the middle of the development has been opened up again – for a couple of years at least.
The Woodman pub, which stands directly opposite the Curzon Street Station building that used to be the terminus for rail travel into the city, closed its doors last year. It had struggled to attract customers to its location, which is on the corner of the empty plot allotted to the new Birmingham City University campus building.
The BCU expansion is set to create nearly 400,000 sq ft of space on a site opposite Millennium Point. Architects BDP designed the £130 million building.
It is set to provide a base for the university’s respected Birmingham Conservatoire concert hall as well as becoming the focus of the university’s creative and performing arts, technology and design and construction and media courses.
The site has all been cleared, except for the Woodman, which is now left exposed on the site. The pub, built in 1897, is Grade-II listed and is noted for its 1896 façade by James and Lister Lea and its largely intact public bar and smoking room
But it has struggled in recent years, along with a number of its neighbours, fuelling speculation that it might not survive as part of the plans for development in the area.
The Woodman is one of at least three pubs in the Eastside area to have shut their doors. Both the Eagle and Tun on nearby Banbury Street, and the Fox and Grapes on Park Street have been shut for a number of years.
Many pubs have struggled during the recession, as customer numbers dropped because of the fall in consumer confidence, and harsh price competition from supermarkets using alcohol as a loss leader.
At one point as many as 52 pubs a week were going out of business, according to statistics from the British Beer and Pub Association.
Birmingham City Council, which owns the Woodman site, said it was not certain what the future of the building was, although its listed nature meant that it was quite possible it would continue to trade as a pub.
A spokesman for Birmingham City Council said: “They are still finalising the details – it’s just for a couple of years. Once Eastside is developed we will look at options for that building.
“Obviously a pub is one of the things it could be long-term.”