Nat West Tower - What Next?
on the corner of Colmore Row and Newhall Street is one
of the least loved 1970's buildings in the city. Having been
empty for several years, it has recently (Nov 2006) been revealed that
the site is about to change hands and move from Omega Land
to British Land
at a cost of about
£21million. The proposal being discussed is for yet another
'iconic' tower development. Understandably, the Civic Society
not impressed - and neither am I!
Colmore Row remains a relatively unspoilt part of the city. Its
importance was recognised as early as 1971 when the initial 'Colmore
Row and Environs' conservation area was eastablished. The Draft
Character Appraisal and Draft Supplementary Planning Policies
document (2Mb PDF) produced by Birmingham Council is an excellent
with Part A, section 4 containing a superb and very detailed
description of the development of this part of Birmingham. Part
B, section 1 contains some suitably restrictive guidance for future
development in the area. Here are some highlights:-
buildings must not appear to be significantly higher or lower than
street frontage elevations of new
buildings should achieve a satisfactory visual relationship with the
street frontage elevations of their neighbours.
buildings must preserve views and
vistas characteristic of the conservation area and respect the setting
of key historic landmarks.
All this, in my eyes, does not equate to a large tower block! The
problem lies in the fact that the council also has a Tall Buildings
which identifies the Birmingham Ridge, which runs along
Colmore Row, as suitable for the development of high-rise buildings up
to a maximum 40 storeys to create a "memorable skyline". Surely
these are contradictory policies?
My worry is that finances will come out as the primary concern.
Who can realistically expect a developer to spend millions on the
building, millions more on a complex demolition in a very restricted
area and then erect a 6 storey office block that would not provide a
return on investment for many years - if at all? Whilst I would
dearly love the view of the Civic Society to prevail and a block of,
"no more than six storeys", erected, it's not going to happen.
The choice seems to be the 1970's tower slowly falling into a state of
dereliction or a brand new tower in its place. I await the
proposals with interest...
Whichever way you look at it, it's not nice is it?
|From Newhall St
|From Edmund St near Church St
|From St Philip's graveyard
|From Wellington Passage
|Up close from Colmore Row
|From Colmore Row