Holliday Wharf
Photo By D J Norton Masshouse

Birmingham Developments

My project to understand how the Inner Ring Road affected Birmingham has resulted in me becoming interested in how the city is changing today.  Having been working in the city centre since 2002, I have seen many changes already.   I've witnessed the construction of Beetham Tower, Centenary Plaza and Holliday Wharf on my walk to work.  Near my office, derelict land has been converted to inner city apartments.  I believe what is happening to the city today is every bit as important as what happened in the 1950's and 1960's.

What's different today is the Internet.  So much information is available, you can't begin to imagine!  The problem is that it's not always easy to find unless you know what you're looking for.  I intend to help by providing links to some of the important sites.

The current round of changes to Birmingham started in the mid 1980's.  The construction of Symphony Hall and the ICC, the NIA, Brindley Place etc. saw an unloved part of the city centre rejuvinated.  When I was a child, the Central Library was as far as I went!  Oh, unless the Ideal Homes Exhibition was on at Bingley Hall, of course.  What's happened since has been part of a grand plan created by the City Council.  The regrading of the eastern side of the Inner Ring Road and demolition of Masshouse Circus, the creation of the new Bull Ring, Millenium Point - the list is almost endless.  There used to be a superb website (www.howlers.co.uk) that contained a superb record of the changes but it sadly disappeared.  At least the pictures of the old Bull Ring are still online...

What you may not realise is that there is so much more to come!  The place to start is the 'Unitary Development Plan'.  This rather dry document can be purchased or downloaded in sections.  This is the plan for the whole of the city, not just the city centre so you can find out what's intended for where you live.  It's interesting because it was updated in 2005 having been unchanged since 1993.  You can see where changes have been made due to developments being completed or dropped.  The UDP refers to local, Supplementary Planning Guidance documents.  These provide much more detail and can be found by searching the council website - they are well worth digging out.

For the city centre, the Major Developments page is where it's at.  Also, the Blueprint for Action is worth downloading as it provides a good summary for the city centre and city as a whole.  More information on key developments can be found at the Locate Birmingham website.  I would also recommend downloading the latest copy of Future Birmingham, also from Locate Birmingham.

Three of the big developments in the offing are as follows:-

Martineau Galleries - This will see the demolition of Oasis, Argos, Priory Square shopping precinct, Toys 'R' Us and the Academy.  It's a massive undertaking, due for completion in 2011.

Arena Central - Another massive project involving the demolition of the old Central TV Studios and the unused Holliday Street multi-storey car park.

Bristol Street South - With Matthew Boulton college having relocated and Monaco House practically empty, the council is looking for a partner to redevelop this area of the city.  I find it fascinating that the development brief insists that, "Buildings should front onto streets with active elevations".  In other words, just like it was before they pulled it all down in the 1960's!  Another snippet I found rather surprising was this...

St Luke's Note

On this page I will also add links some of my own photo's and notes about current developments.  I hope they are of interest.  Some of you may be wondering what relevance all this is to what is, primarily, a history site.  All I can say is that when my father took his pictures, what was happening was current for him.  It won't be long before the pictures I take now will be showing the history of the redevelopment of Birmingham.

Just one final point.  I think the changes that have happened since the mid 1980's and the schemes planned for the future are really succeeding in improving Birmingham.  Much as we'd like to, we can never go back to the city captured by my father's photographs.  We must be proud of how the city is shaping up and how the mistakes of the 1950's and 1960's are being acknowledged and undone.

* Don't miss this limited opportunity to photograph a part of old Brum! *

* Birmingham School of Speech and Drama demolished! *

* Birmingham Register Office moving from Broad Street to Holliday Street *

* Birmingham's famous Rotunda reborn *

* Civic Centre refurbishment *

* Unity House to be brought back to life...? *

* Nat West Tower - what next? *

* Old Brum Burns - to lose one building is careless, to lose three is outrageous *

* The King Returns - Edward VII back in the city centre *

* Library of Birmingham *