Proposals to transform a landmark city centre office block into apartments with a new hotel or student accomodation built next door look set to be given the seal of approval by planners.
The 20 storey Metropolitan House, which overlooks Five Ways island in Edgbaston and was designed by John Madin, will house 182 flats, including 20 in four new penthouse floors in a rooftop extension.
Land between the tower and nearby Tricorn House, which is currently a decked car park, could be turned into a 12,500 sq m hotel or student flats up to 14 storeys high with the first floor of the hotel or student flats being earmarked for a restaurant or a high end car showroom.
The application by Henderson Global Investors, on behalf of the Oyster Jersey Property Fund, is subject to a legal agreement to be decided this week.
A previous planning application was withdrawn in April after developers were told to provide more affordable homes.
The city council’s planning department was set to refuse the scheme because the developer had designated only two flats as “affordable” – available at 60 per cent of the market rate.
Council policy states that at least 13 of the two bedroom apartments should be affordable, or offset with a £943,000 donation towards housing in the vicinity. The developer was only prepared to offer £150,000, which equated to two properties.
The company also failed to provide spin-off cash to improve the Chamberlain Gardens public open space as requested.
But now the Section 106 agreement includes 13 “affordable” apartments, a Public Open Space contribution of £20,000, nearly £40,000 for public realm improvements in Ladywood Ward and £20,000 for public transport improvements, which equates to £770,790.
To complement the residential use of the 140,000 sq ft tower it is proposed that the lowest two floors could be used for a gym, restaurant, cafe or bar.
Current tenants at Metropolitan House include National Express.
Martin Payne, fund manager at Henderson Global Investors, said: “Although No 1 Hagley Road continues to provide economical office accommodation for current and potential tenants through a flexible leasing structure, we are aware of the changing needs of the business community and the local area.
“We want to ensure that the building will continue to be utilised to its best potential for many years to come. The proposals will not only give a viable long-term use to the building, but also generate the ability to greatly enhance the external appearance of this major landmark which sits in one of the key gateways to the city centre.”
Associated Architects are behind the designs for the scheme.
G W Planning, acting on behalf of the applicant Henderson Global, said in the application: “Office demand has been less and less in Five Ways and the Hagley Road, it has gone out of favour.
“This is the first step in getting regeneration in Five Ways, the first it has seen in probably 30 years.”
The plans for the development of Metropolitan House are the latest in a series of developments around Five Ways island, coming on the back of hopes for a £100 million scheme to transform the dilapidated Five Ways Shopping Centre opposite.
The council’s planning committee looks set to approve the scheme, which will also see the empty 12-storey Auchinleck House office block transformed into a four-star hotel complete with rooftop restaurant and conference centre.
The conversion of the office block into a 300-room Park Regis Hotel, to be operated by the Australian Staywell Group, was approved by the city council in January.
Apart from a handful of ground floor shops which have remained open, the rest of the Broad Street complex, built in 1962, has been vacant for the best part of a decade.
Several attempts to convert or redevelop the building as apartments, offices, student flats and hotels have faltered. The last set of plans developed four years ago for offices, a hotel, student flats and shopping mall fell victim to the economic downtown,
The Staywell Group is well established in Australia and the Far East, but this hotel, its first in Europe, will be a flagship for the company’s expansion on the continent.
The entire development is expected to create up to 500 jobs. If approved, construction could begin later this year with a view to opening in 2014.
Work is ongoing across the Hagley Road at another part of Five Ways at a 50,000 sq ft Morrisons superstore, which will include 330 parking spaces and five other retail units to let.
This is being built on the site of the old Edgbaston Shopping Centre.