“Utterly bonkers” skyscraper over Georgian building rejected

The proposed skyscraper over a Grade-II listed former hospital building in Birmingham has been decried as

The proposed skyscraper over a Grade-II listed former hospital building in Birmingham has been decried as “preposterous”

Planning consultancy Marron’s proposal to build a skyscraper containing 300 flats over the Georgian building was unaminously rejected at a planning committee meeting.

The proposal inclused a 133.5 glass tower block, a cafe and roof terrace. Of the 300 flats- mostly one-bedroom-  roughly 60 would have been affordable.

“I just don’t think this is it”

Conservative councillor Gareth Moore said: “This is utterly bonkers. The idea you can stick a 42-storey tower block over a Georgian mansion is ridiculous[…]The idea it was even dreamt up is quite frankly ludicrous.”

Labour councillor Lee Marsham suggested that developers had “just plonked something on top of it and hoped that it works”, adding: “I think the broad aims of regeneration of that site is one we should be doing, I just don’t think this is it.”

Even those who dismissed heritage concerns were opposed to the skyscraper over the Georgian building plans’ lack of appropriate housing.

“I don’t place a lot of weight on preserving the past. I don’t mind that this former hospital, former nightclub has been overshadowed by a tall building,” said lead officer and area planning manager Nick Jackson.

“My concern is about the future and the people who want to live there and development that is 70% single bedroom flats is anathema to me. It doesn’t meet council planning standards at all.”

88 Walker Street, North Sydney @88 Walker St

Marrons argued that this way of regenerating heritage sites has precedent

Acting on behalf of HJB Investments, Marron’s planning director Charlotte El Hakiem, said the proposal was an “distinctive and innovative approach, which allows the repurposing of the listed building, bringing it back in public use whilst creating a landmark containing much-needed homes and community space”.

The developers providied examples of similar plans internationally, such as Fitzpatrick & Partners’ 88 Walker Street hotel and office development in North Sydney, which is 50 storeys tall and situated above the listed former North Sydney 1895 fire station.

80 Broad Street has a colourful history as a residence, hospital and nightclub

Formerly a private residence, in the 1840s it became the Birmingham Lying-in Hospital and Dispensary for the Diseases of Women and Children for Birmingham and the West Midlands Counties.

By 1955, the building had been renamed the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital and would later function as a nightclub, Islington Villa.

Historians and conservationists opposed the plans, with David Adshead of the Georgian Group saying “Building over or around a listed building but not touching it directly is clearly a worrying new trend by which heritage protection can, without revision to current legislation, be circumvented.”

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