Will there be Unity for the future of Southside and the Gay Village?

On the corner of Bromsgrove Street and Lower Essex Street stands a forlorn looking building that once saw happier days and now stands awaiting it's fate which I hope is not it's demolition.

The building, Unity House as it is now known, was formerly the Rose and Crown Public House.  The 2003 Pevsner Guide to Birmingham by Andy Foster notes that it is 1900 by William Jenkins, (p.205).  After 1958 it was known as Unity House, housing a number of small trade unions, http://www.photobydjnorton.com/UnityHouse.html.

The building did see a proposal for it's redevelopment, which would have seen it included in a development by Crosby Lend Lease.  The development, which was opposed by neighbouring gay businesses including the Nightingale in response to threats to their operating hours due to noise, was initially refused planning permission.

The opposite view, looking towards Unity House, from 30 December 2012.

The decision to refuse planning permission was appealed however by Crosby Lend Lease and landowner Sir Timothy Robert Sherlock Gooch Baronet and Benacre Estates Company.  The appeal was successful and planning permission was granted, http://www.environmental-protection.org.uk/assets/library/documents/Peter_Rogers_handout.pdf

Reproduced from the Midlands Zone, 2008. 

The Gooch Estate comprises the remnants of what was the original manorial estates of Birmingham.Acquired by Bishop Sherlock of London as an investment in the early 1700s, the focus of the land holdings has always been Digbeth and Southside.
The Estate has grown in recent years and currently extends to over 45 acres, with around 200 property interests spread over an area to the south and east of the city centre from the A38 Bristol Street to the West Coast mainline.

As is plainly visible in the initial pictures, the development has not been built.  Following the planning appeal, as work didn't progress, a planning application was submitted in 2008,  C/03000/08/FUL, for the site opposite which was part of the proposal to be used temporarily as a pay and display car park.  

This was renewed in 2009, C/02095/09/FUL,  with a further application in 2010 to extend time to develop the original proposal, 2010/02473/PA.  To date there has been no further news on the proposal but with the current economic situation it seems that the proposal is unlikely to be proceed for some time.  The development of the Southside BID, Business Improvement District, does however suggest that alongside the planned regeneration of the adjacent markets area and the Local Enterprise Zone designation for the city core, that it might only be a matter of time before the site is valuable enough to proceed with redevelopment.

I hope the building survives the next wave of regeneration in the local area.  It seems remarkable to have survived when the Kent Street Baths, which were the focus of a bid by the 20th Century Society to preserve the 1930s public baths art deco building, housing public baths which had opened on the site in 1852, http://www.birminghampost.net/news/w...5233-24710726/, was unsuccessful.

Near the former Public Baths the Gooch estate is investing in student accommodation with the refurbishment of Listed buildings to become student flats in a £2.4m scheme.  The building, fronting Bristol Street, saw work begin in December 2012 and will see the ground floor commercial units refurbished alongside creating accommodation for 108 students in time for the new intake of students in 2013; the project is expected to be finalised by July 2013.

The Gooch Estate is developing the row of locally-listed buildings into accommodation for 108 students, as well as refurbishing the existing ground floor commercial units in time for the new intake of students in 2013.The 40-week design and build contract was awarded to Markey Construction on the back of its existing experience in the education and student accommodation sector. Planning permission was granted earlier this year by Birmingham City Council.

Planning image of the development, reproduced from planning application 012/03213/PA, is shown below.


Brumgum said…
I've always admired the old Rose and Crown building and have imagined what it would be like as an old traditional pub perhaps along the lines of the Anchor but with some substantial B&B accommodation above.Brum has lost so many buildings of this standard,i hope that this one can be saved as it deserves to be. Love your very informative site btw.

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