Birmingham's Colmore Row tower block plans to be revisited following Historic England concerns

Historic England has previously objected to the expansion plans
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Proposals for a new tower in Colmore Row in the heart of Birmingham city centre are set to be revisited following concerns raised by Historic England.

The plans, which would involve the partial demolition of an existing building and extension to create a 26-storey tower, will be discussed by Birmingham City Council’s (BCC) planning committee later this month. The proposals were discussed by the committee last December but the application ultimately had to be deferred to get further details about Historic England’s concerns and whether an amended plan could be possible.

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Historic England has previously objected to the plans, saying: “The main impact on the Conservation Area would be from the increase in height of the tower from 17 to 26 storeys.”

It went on to say the the scale and appearance of the proposals “would be at odds” with that of the existing development in the Colmore Row and Environs Conservation Area, which it says includes some of the best examples of Birmingham’s Victorian and Edwardian architecture.

Considering whether the scale of the proposed development could therefore be amended, the council’s independent consultants said reducing the height of the tower building by four storeys “significantly impacts on viability.”

“It has not been possible to further reduce the proposed height or mass of the building, as this would render the scheme unviable,” the report continues.

Colmore Row towerColmore Row tower
Colmore Row tower
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It adds: “Whilst the proposed scheme remains large, it is at a much-reduced scale to those presented at pre-application stage.”

On whether the appearance of the development could be altered, the report said its design was “acceptable” considering its central business district location and added it’s a “betterment on the existing architecture.”

Historic England said it had nothing further to add to their original response and that its “advice remains the same.” The council officer’s report acknowledges the objection and that the proposal would cause “low levels of less than substantial harm.”

It went on to say however that as required by the National Policy Planning Framework, which sets out the government’s planning policies, the harm has been justified and weighed against the benefits of the proposal. These include economic benefits and an “attractive” pedestrian route connecting Colmore Row and Bull Street to replace the existing pedestrian arcade.

The application will be reviewed at a Birmingham City Council planning committee meeting being held next week on Thursday, February 22.

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