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Central Library could have become Hotel Brutalist

Central Library could have become Hotel Brutalist

🕔22.Mar 2013

libraryCouncil leaders considered turning Birmingham’s ‘brutalist’ central library into a hotel before rejecting the idea on cost grounds.

The grim concrete-clad 1970s building, famously condemned by Prince Charles as looking ‘more like a place for burning books than keeping them’, is to be demolished next year to make way for a £450 million redevelopment of Paradise Circus.

Reports before the council cabinet setting out proposals for a Compulsory Purchase Order covering the entire 17-acre site make it clear that options for retaining the library building were looked at, including using it as a hotel and possibly an art gallery and museum.

But officials concluded that neither of the proposals would be financially viable and that the Paradise Circus scheme would only produce required rental income if it was based on filling Birmingham’s unmet need for Grade A office space.

The CPO will allow the council and its joint venture partners Argent to acquire and demolish all of the buildings in the Paradise Circus development zone including the Paradise Forum shopping centre, Fletcher’s Walk shopping mall, the Birmingham City University Conservatorie, Adrian Boult Hall, the Copthorne Hotel and Chamberlain House offices.

The Adrian Boult Hall will be rebuilt as part of the development alongside a replacement for the Copthorne Hotel. The Conservatorie will be relocated to Louisa Ryland House. Birmingham’s new £187 million civic library opens in Centenary Square in September.

The full business case for Paradise Circus is expected to be approved by the cabinet on March 25. The long-awited project has effectively been unlocked by an Enterprise Zone allocation from the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP).

GBSLEP’s intervention means that the council can borrow £61.3 million and use additional business rate ‘uplift’ income generated from the development to fund the loan. The total investment is predicted to create a net growth in business rates of £180.5 million over the 25-year life of the Enterprise Zone. This will enable further investment in regeneration projects.

Argent – the developer behind Brindleyplace – was granted outline planning permission for Paradise Circus last year. The council believes the scheme will generate up to 12,000 jobs.

The plan includes offices, shops, leisure and cultural facilities together with civic amenities and a replacement for the Copthorne Hotel. In total, the development will comprise a gross internal area of some 1.8 million sq ft, making it one of the UK’s largest recent city centre regeneration schemes.

This £61.3 million tranche of funding will pay for two phases of infrastructure works. The whole scheme requires £83.4 million of Enterprise Zone resource allocation for the public infrastructure works, which include demolition, highways and landscaping.

Sir Albert Bore, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “This is the first time this type of innovative Joint Venture (JV) structure and funding package has been used in England and Wales to deliver regeneration. It has been made possible because Paradise Circus is included in the Enterprise Zone and facilitated by the close working relationship between the city council, Argent and the LEP.”

Cabinet papers describe the redevelopment scheme as crucial in advancing the continued regeneration of Birmingham city centre and supporting economic growth and prosperity.

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