Attempts to get Birmingham’s Central library listed will impede the progress made in changing the city’s image, the Civic Society has claimed.
The group said news English Heritage is to urge ministers to declare the building a site of architectural importance – making it difficult to demolish – should be greeted with “dismay and disbelief”.
Birmingham City Council has £1 billion plans to redevelop Paradise Circus that involve knocking down the library, described by Prince Charles as an incinerator more suitable for the burning of books.
Freddie Gick, chairman of the Birmingham Civic Society, which aims to promote good architecture in the city, said: “This monumental, brutalist incinerator has no place in the centre of our city, flanked by the glorious nineteenth century architecture and sculpture of our other civic buildings.
"Visitors to the city walking through Victoria Square and into Chamberlain Square from New Street are confronted with this import from post revolution Russia and forced to go through a tacky assortment of fast food outlets en route to meetings or concerts in the ICC/Symphony Hall.”
Birmingham’s head of regeneration Clive Dutton – who described the Central Library as a “blot” – last week announced the council would seek permission from the Government to demolish the building even if it did get listed.
Mr Gick questioned English Heritage’s decision in the wake of the “great strides” made by the city council to improve the image and ambience of the centre over the last two decades.
“In common with many cities around Europe the mediocrity of post-war buildings is gradually being replaced by stylish new developments of which we can justifiably be proud,” he said.
“The fact that this is the largest non-national library in Europe may seem to English Heritage to be a good reason for listing but it needs to go, he added.”
Local Government Minister Margaret Hodge is due to decide whether to accept English Heritage’s advice later this year.