The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

News from Birmingham

I am sorry to say that I was misinformed about the fate of the Post and Mail building by the John Madin Design Group, a leading firm of Birmingham architects, which makes an important contribution to the street scene. Despite a failed attempt to get the building listed, we had hoped that an alternative use had been found for it, but my optimism has not been justified. The building has been granted immunity from listing until 2008 and there are outline plans by the City for its demolition in order to create a ‘through route to the Dental Hospital ‘ which at present can be reached by just walking around the corner of the building! Parts of the building are currently covered by scaffolding for the display of advertising, but the future is uncertain. No developer has yet submitted plans for the redevelopment of this part of Birmingham, so all may not yet be lost.

Redevelopment in the city centre, indeed. There are now several designated redevelopment areas: East Side, the area by St Chads Cathedral, Arena Central involving the Alpha Tower, and Paradise Forum where demolition of another John Madin building, the Central Library, is proposed. Thus developers must be spoilt for choice. Hopefully, of course, some of these redevelopments may never happen.

The fate of the Central Library is of great concern. It is in the right location in the city centre and should remain there: the cost of a new library to be built at East Side is estimated at £170 million, though no funding for this exercise has yet been found. Alternative proposals include scrapping plans for a new library but re-locating parts of the existing library to the ThinkTank building at East Side which is under used. A change of leadership in the Council next June might prove decisive on this.

There is just one piece of good news: there will be a Birmingham event on 4th September, so make a note in your diary and see the events programme for details. I hope to see many of you then.

Eva Ling