Dear Editor, Now that we can see the concrete lift shafts of the new library towering above Centenary Square it’s worth recalling that the sole reason for the huge public expenditure and disruption involved in moving the Central Library there was to free Paradise Circus for commercial redevelopment.
The Birmingham Conservatoire is also required to move from Paradise Circus where, like the library, it is said to stand in the developer’s way. But, whilst the council has pulled out all the stops to rebuild the Central Library in Centenary Square at a total cost to the taxpayer of £590 million, it now seems happy to leave the fate of the Conservatoire to the mercy of the developer who has offered it a mere £8 million for a new building in Paradise Circus.
The Conservatoire itself says that replacement facilities will cost £30 million. The developer’s offer is unlikely to replace all the facilities, such as the Adrian Boult Hall, a 520-seat purpose-designed concert hall ideal for amateur groups who find the Town Hall hard to fill and the Symphony Hall altogether too big and expensive.
The council, for its part, is offering the Conservatoire either the old Municipal Bank in Broad Street or Louisa Ryland House in Newhall Street or shared use of the proposed 300-seat studio-theatre in the new library along with the library service and the Rep.
Perhaps it is too early to judge the practicality of any of these proposals, but it is hard to avoid the impression that the Conservatoire is being told that, in these hard times, ‘beggars can’t now afford to be choosers’.