No longer round in circles

After the successful reopening of the Fiddle & Bone pub at the end of February 2015,, plans are afoot to regenerate the adjoining Roundhouse.  The £650,000 revamp by canal boaters who run nearby Sherborne Wharf has come ahead of exciting plans to create a mixed use development through a partnership between The National Trust and the Canals & Rivers Trust.

The roundhouse as built by the Corporation of Birmingham as a mineral and coal wharf for the railway, sitting in a small triangle of land sitting between the Birmingham Canal and the former London & North Western Railway.

It was the subject of an architectural competition in the early 1870s and the winning design was by William Henry Ward, a local architect based in Paradise Street. Ward was responsible for many of Birmingham's great buildings such as Great Western Arcade and the Parish Offices in Newhall Street, also known as Louisa Ryland House.

The Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded an initial £225,000 development grant which will be used to work up the plans into a £2.9m scheme seeing the restoration of the building.

Stuart Mills, from the Canal & River Trust, said: “The Roundhouse is a truly iconic building and part of the history of Birmingham.  We’re really delighted to be working in partnership with the National Trust to bring it back to life, transforming it into somewhere for local communities and visitors to connect with the waterways and the broader history of Birmingham.”

The following image from the planning application, 2015/05469/PA, shows the history of the site.

Historical Context, reproduced from the planning application documents.
Constructed in 1873, the Roundhouse has a long and interesting history, which is explored in the accompanying Heritage Assessment undertaken by Grover Lewis in 2012. Since its original use as a municipal facility ceased during the 1970s, the building has played host to a number of small businesses with a number of insensitive alterations and additions being made. Pro - cured by Canal & River Trust (then British Waterways) in 2001, several plans have been put forward for viable uses for the site. Permission was granted in 2006 to convert the building to offices and construct a glazed external walkway within the main courtyard and multiple new windows to the south. This permission was renewed more than once, most recently in 2013. In 2013, the partnership between Canal & River Trust and National Trust was created to develop an action plan, culminating in these proposals.

The Design and Access Statement for the planning application that has recently been submitted shows the change of use of the Grade II* listed building to a mixed use / flexible urban discovery and enterprise hub with exhibition space, museum and education and training and works to the courtyard.

This Design and Access Statement is submitted in support of a planning application and associated listed building consent for the proposed development of the grade 2* listed, Roundhouse, St Vincent Street, Birmingham, made to Birmingham City Council. The development comprises: Change of use of Roundhouse to provide a mixed use / flexible use urban discovery and enterprise hub (uses classes B1, D1 (exhibition hall, museum and education and training), D2, A1, A3, A5) together with associated alterations to the building, erection of link building, and works to courtyard.

Indicative images of the proposed mixed use regeneration of the site from the planning application.

You can comment on the National Trust and Canals & Rivers Trust plans by filling out a survey on their website:

Photos from 18th May show the Round House and the adjacent reopened Fiddle and Bone pub.


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