Reserving judgment on New New Street

Thursday 4th February sees the Reserved Matters planning application for New Street Station's redevelopment go before Birmingham City Council's Planning Committee.

The following excerpts are taken from the Committee Report going before the committee recommending Approval subject to conditions.

Reserved matters to outline planning consent 2009/03086/PA for the redevelopment of phase one (comprising redevelopment of New Street Station and adjoining land including changes to the Pallasades Shopping Centre, the demolition of Stephenson Tower, associated highway works, creation of public spaces and infrastructure works), including siting, design and external appearance of the building(s) and landscaping.

Siting of the Building
The station building and position of the railway tracks remain in the same location but the footprint of the building alters as a result of remodelling. Firstly, a new curved projection to the north-west corner is proposed to provide an improved pedestrian access into the station.
Secondly, a similar “bulge” is proposed to the south east of the station to provide additional retailing to compensate for retail floor space lost for the new atrium. Thirdly, the north-east corner has been cut back to create an access linking Stephenson Street to Worcester Street. Additionally, Stephenson Tower will be demolished to create the new southern plaza.

At concourse level, the existing area will be enlarged to three and a half times the size of the present concourse, include comfortable waiting lounges and features a light-filled atrium.
The new concourse will form a publicly accessible north-south route through the station flanked by retail units, with a spur opening the station up to the east. The new north-south pedestrian route through will be open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, whilst the eastern access link will be open during the station’s operational hours approx 05.30 – 00.30. An area with mezzanine level will be provided at the North-West corner with access off the station concourse level to accommodate office space for Train Operating Companies and station plant.
At platform level, the existing enclosed waiting rooms will be removed, accessibility improved with over 21 new vertical circulation links, including staircases, 26 escalators and 14 lifts to the concourse above, and floor, ceiling and wall surfaces renewed.

The existing Pallasades Shopping Centre will remain, but will be reconfigured to allow for the creation of the new atrium roof over the station concourse through the central core of the building, which will involve the loss of existing retail units within the central part of the hopping centre. Replacement retail space will be provided within the “bulge” to the southeast.
An existing public right of way running from the Stephenson Street ramp through the Pallasades Shopping Centre, across the pedestrian bridge and down the southern external staircase to Station Street will be relocated so that the shopping centre can be completely closed out of hours. The existing linked walkway between Stephenson Street and the Bullring Shopping Centre will be retained and new vertical circulation points will be created to the northwest and south. Access to Exchange House will also be retained.

External Appearance
It is proposed that the rainscreen cladding will be mirror polished stainless steel. The rainscreen cladding will cloak the Pallasades Shopping Centre, the multi-storey car park above the station, plant at roof level and the extended Navigation Street footbridge. Large eye-shaped media screens, inserted within the cladding, will highlight and from a distance give legibility to the three main access points to the station, the southern entrance, eastern square and the north-west corner. The existing pedestrian ramp from New Street to the Pallasades will be defined by an eyebrow shape in the stainless steel cladding to the Stephenson Street façade.

Consultation/PP Responses
CABE – fully support this application, which has significantly improved on many aspects of the approved outline scheme. The proposal demonstrates integrity and rigour and all elements are well coordinated, working together to generate a single unified design.
However, while we are confident that this has the potential to be world class piece of architecture, we caution the client and local planning authority to guard against the erosion of design that could lessen the impact of this impressive proposal. Pleased that the concept architects have been appointed to develop construction details for the façade and atrium but recommend their ongoing involvement in all aspects of the design. This will help to ensure that the strong design concepts are not diluted and the materials and construction details are consistent with the overall design approach.

Access Committee – the redeveloped station should be an exemplar of an accessible underground station in all respects for all travellers, not only disabled people. The external area is particularly critical in view of the physical aspects of the site. In particular the proposed “Spanish Steps” to the south of the station should be suitably equipped with tactile corduroy and contrasting edging. Handrails should be warm to touch materials. As there is only one lift it should be of a large enough capacity to manage use by large mobility scooters and tandem pushchairs. It should be under close “turn around” maintenance in the event of failures and covered by CCTV for security. Signage for the lift and accessible routes should be provided. Bollards around the station should be installed to with due regard to the needs
of people with sight impairment.

More images of the redevelopment are shown in my earlier post, Shiny station plans submitted.


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