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.