New Futures for Birmingham`s Historic Buildings

Birmingham Central Library “granted immunity from listing”

Posted November 23rd, 2009 by Birmingham Conservation Trust with 6 Comments
Central Library in Birmingham by Rory Munro - click for original.

Central Library in Birmingham by Rory Munro - click for original.

The government has announced that the John Madin designed Birmingham Central Library will not be listed – which means that the building can now be demolished as part of Birmingham’s Big City Plan.

English Heritage has expressed disappointment after advising the government to grant the building Grade 2 status, saying this morning:

English Heritage believes that the Library is worthy of Grade ll listed protection. Listing identifies whether a building is nationally important and not whether it must be kept. It is not a preservation order, simply a mark of special interest. Listed buildings can still be demolished once the case has been made and all other options have been explored. We have been working with the City Council throughout, and maintain an open dialogue with them.

In offering the Government our expert advice, we examined all aspects of its architectural interest including: whether it fulfilled its brief; whether it was a particularly good example of a public library; how well it survives; how it compares to other listed buildings of a similar type; and how influential the building has been. In our view, these tests were met.

We are naturally disappointed that Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw came to a different conclusion and we believe many local people will be too.

Birmingham City Council reports the decision as “immunity from listing” Mike Whitby, the council leader, has said:

“We are delighted that Government has granted our application for ‘immunity from listing’ for the Central Library, giving us a major boost in our plans to regenerate the city.

“Now, our vision around a new world-class library and theatre will be enriching transformational change in the heart of the city.

“Today’s decision helps pave the way for a multi-million pound redevelopment of Paradise Circus, which will allow people to enjoy a spectacular long-view from our Council House up to the new Library of Birmingham.

For more on people’s views about the library please see our post from yesterday. Jon Bounds – who opposes the demolition of the building – has been collecting a whole range of constantly updated articles here.

6 Responses to “Birmingham Central Library “granted immunity from listing””

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  2. Rob T March 15, 2010

    At first I was in favour of this building being demolished, but having considered the possibility of a ‘vast hole’ being left to exist for a good few years while people in Birmingham row with each other about what should be put there instead (not to mention the city council spending years arguing with a prospective Conservative government) I think the people of Birmingham (and being a Londoner this may sound controversial) should take deep breath – and stick with this building. Then turn it into a modern art gallery BUT make it the most amazing Modern Art gallery in Britain.

    All it takes is abit of imagination e.g. putting coloured glass panels in too create streams of coloured light when caught by the sun…or using interesting lighting and projecting images onto the building like they do with the National Theatre in London…or using low energy neon strip lighting in various colours underneath each concrete instep on the side of the building. Just imagination that’s all!

    I think English Heritage are right this time about the building being kept – and I am no huge fan of brutalist architecture by any means. As one person on here said already – why not make it the TATE West Midlands or simply Birmingham TATE. We have to stop thinking in this country that Art is for the elite only as this is nonsense. They don’t share this same outlook in Germany or France or anywhere in western Europe for that matter.


  3. Christian Barry February 8, 2010

    The Central Library building would make a perfect modern art gallery. This important building should be preserved and donated to the TATE, to hopefully create TATE West Midlands.


  4. Photos of Birmingham Central Library | Birmingham Conservation Trust December 6, 2009

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  5. Paul Ashton November 23, 2009

    Well, this government is dead in the water without an original idea left in its collective “brain”. So perhaps the immunity from listing can be challenged within six months or so. We walked through the concourse on Thursday evening last week and found the new flooring and lack of romanesque pillars a great relief. There should indeed be a future for this iconic structure that links two areas of the city so successfully. As to the library itself, my good lady wife, born south of the Watford Gap, thinks it a marvelous edifice of knowledge. As it indeed is!


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