A new 20 storey tower block has been welcomed by city planners as a major improvement to Birmingham’s golden mile.
The block which will rise above the three-storey Lee Longlands furniture store on Broad Street will fill in a gap between tall buildings and tidy up the tired looking shop fronts it was complained.
Outline plans for the site, and a smaller ten-storey block on Granville Street behind, were unanimously approved by Birmingham’s planning committee.
The flexible proposals mean that the blocks could ultimately become offices, a hotel or most controversially student flats.
Residents of nearby apartment blocks feared a rise in late night noise and nuisance if students were allowed to move in.
Craig Tuer, speaking on behalf of Granville Street residents, said: “The better uses for this are hotel, offices and retail. We believe having students in the area is a step back. We are concerned at a rise in noise levels.”
But Davinder Bansal, of Glenn Howells Archeticts, speaking for Lee Longlands, said that the art-deco store had been on Broad Street for 70 years and that this plan would see it through the next 70 to 100 years.
He likened the space above the shop to a ‘gap tooth’ and added that the tower would fill the space.
He explained that they proposed a wide range of uses to allow them to market the development to wider range of clients. “Two uses, the hotel and offices build on uses already in the area, while student accommodation adds to the diversity in Broad Street.”
Committee member Coun Bob Beauchamp (Cons, Erdington) said: “I am pleased that this will preserve the Lee Longlands shop and that the tower is slightly set back. It looks dramatic. The shop frontage is looking tired and I hope this will smarten it up.
“This is also an ideal place for students, we have three universities nearby and they are at the heart of the entertainment area.”
The committee heard that if the block was to be used by students there would be a concierge to ensure their good behaviour.