Putting Paradise back into the Circus

Nearly six years after Paradise Forum, the shopping centre beneath Birmingham Central Library, saw a £2 million redevelopment reach completion, Paradise Forum close to first stage completion, owners Argent launched a consultation in February on their ambitious plans for the redevelopment of Paradise Circus.  Argent acquired Paradise Forum and Chamberlain House in 2004 and has worked with Birmingham City Council on master planning the six acre site.

Owned by developers Argent, the centre, between Victoria and Centenary Squares, will eventually become a multi-million pound mixed use development.  But in the short term Argent intends to significantly upgrade the walkway to cater for the estimated 11.8 million people who pass through it every year.
The south side of the thoroughfare has already been demolished and reconfigured to accommodate a series of new retail units which will be in a similar style to the McDonalds new store which kickstarted the project.
Paradise Forum close to first stage completion

The Paradise circus site sits between Centenary and Chamberlain Square and includes the existing Central Library, being replaced by the new Library of Birmingham, Conservatoire, Copthorne Hotel, and Paradise Forum together with a number of retail units.  The site covers approximately 8 acres.
The clearance of the site will create between 1.4 million and 1.7 million sq ft of mixed retail, commercial, new hotel and leisure space in a mixture of new buildings set in new streets and squares.  The vision sees a development that could be viewed as  creating a Brindleyplace II.

The obstacle to the site, the current Central Library, did not get protection in 2009 in a failed bid by English Heritage to get it listed and an appeal saw the library retain exemption from protection giving the city council and developers the space to develop it's paradise circus plans.  In January 2011 a Certificate of Immunity on Listing was issued on the existing Central Library Building and this certificate prevents the listing of the building for a five year period expiring in January 2016.

The masterplanning by a team made up of Glenn Howells Architects, transport planners Peter Brett Associates, consulting engineers Arup and Townshend Landscape Architects have seen plans developed aimed at creating improved links with the ICC, NIA and Library of Birmingham, a lively mix of uses to create a new vibrant quarter for the city, new public squares and enhanced setting for the historic buildings such as the Town Hall.

Images from the consultation are reproduced below showing an artist’s impression of the proposed redevelopment of Paradise Circus with kind permission from the Argent Group.  These images are indicative and have themselves been superseded by the revision of plans as noted below.

More information can be found at www.paradisecircus.co.uk

A planning application for the proposal is likely to be made later this year as the developers seek to take advantage of the designation of enterprise zones in the city and the revision of plans following the public consultation;  Property Week noted that the office development would be cut by 100,000 sq ft, http://www.propertyweek.com/news/news-by-region/west-midlands/paradise-circus-downsizes-office-space-following-consultation/5035602.article.

The proposals however have not been without critique and challenge from those in favour of retaining the current Central Library such as the Friends of the Central Library.  Challenges to the proposals' impact on Chamberlain Square and the Town Hall  have been considered by the design team but arguments for the library's retention is too much of a constraint on the site for what could be built around for the masterplan to retain the current Central Library, http://www.birminghampost.net/news/w...33-31078854/2/


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