‘Bonkers’ Birmingham Broad Street skyscraper plans above former hospital are thrown out

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The planning committee at Birmingham City Council described the plans as bonkers, ludicrous and ridiculous

Striking plans for a 42-storey tower in Birmingham city centre at the site of a former hospital have been refused.

The proposals for 80 Broad Street would have seen the enormous new skyscraper attached directly to a Grade II listed building while also ‘oversailing’ directly over it.

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A council officer’s report, published before a planning committee meeting yesterday (Thursday, April 25), suggested this would ‘significantly overwhelm’ the three-storey listed building, which is now vacant and unused.

The historic building currently in Broad Street was once the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital and was most recently used as a bar, restaurant and nightclub.

Councillor Gareth Moore was particularly critical of the plans during today’s meeting, saying: “It’s utterly bonkers, the idea you can stick a tower block over a Georgian mansion is just ridiculous. It’s a listed building, the idea it was even dreamt up is quite frankly ludicrous.”

Councillor Lee Marsham was also sceptical, adding: “I feel like this application, they’ve just plonked something on top of it and hoped it works. I actually think the broad aim of regenerating that site is one we should be doing, I just don’t think this is it.”

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The agent for the applicants addressed the meeting, saying they faced a “challenging time frame” when it came to the submission of the planning application. “We are keen to engage with the council on the future of 80 Broad Street,” he continued. “We understand the reaction and concerns expressed in the officer’s report.

“We believe there is an opportunity to redevelop 80 Broad Street, which can preserve setting and bring the listed building back to a positive use whilst providing public benefits in an area where regeneration is encouraged.”

'Bonkers' Birmingham Broad Street skyscraper plans for top of listed former hospital building'Bonkers' Birmingham Broad Street skyscraper plans for top of listed former hospital building
'Bonkers' Birmingham Broad Street skyscraper plans for top of listed former hospital building

He went on to say: “The haste at which this application is being determined for refusal is of profound concern. It’s in everyone’s interest to work together and narrow the scope of disagreement.”

He argued there was more time for responses, solutions and concerns to be addressed before suggesting that the application is deferred. In response, Birmingham City Council area planning manager Nick Jackson said: “We can only determine the scheme that’s laid before us, hence the report you see. As with every application, we’re under pressure to determine applications within time frames. There is no more opportunity for negotiation on that front.”

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As well as the proposed tower and the 300 dwellings it would have provided, the planning application also included proposals for an internal viewing platform to create a ‘flexible community space’ as well as the refurbishment of the listed building and change of use of the former nightclub to provide a community facility.

However, according to the council officer’s report, the plans attracted objections from organisations such as Historic England, The Georgian Group, The Victorian Society and The Birmingham Civic Society due to concerns over ‘heritage harm’.

On the possible impact on the listed building, the report continued: “The large 42-storey tower would attach directly to the listed building, rising high directly behind, oversailing directly above and over the building, significantly overwhelming the three-storey building.”

Charlotte El Hakiem, planning director at Marrons, who led the application, previously said: “The proposal takes a distinctive and innovative approach that allows for the retention and careful repurposing of a Grade II-listed building to bring it back into public use, while simultaneously creating a striking 42-storey landmark tower that contains much-needed housing to accommodate the city’s ever-growing population

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“Beyond the tangible housing benefits, the proposal promises to significantly enhance the city’s public realm, improve connectivity, and invigorate the local economy through the creation of flexible community spaces and on-site amenities – delivering extensive community and public benefits to the area.”

However, the planning application, submitted by planning, design and development consultancy Marrons on behalf of HJB Investments, was unanimously refused at yesterday’s meeting of Birmingham City Council’s planning committee.

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