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Birmingham Central Library - immunity from listing

Listing of existing Central Library

English Heritage have advised the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport that the Central Library meets the criteria for Grade II listing. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport are now considering all the evidence and decide whether to grant immunity or to list the building.

The council's case for immunity is strongly supported by the Birmingham Civic Society, whose Chair, Freddie Gick, said "This monumental, brutalist incinerator has no place in the centre of our city, flanked by the glorious nineteenth century architecture and sculpture of our other civic buildings. Visitors to the city walking through Victoria Square and into Chamberlain Square from New Street are confronted with this import from post revolution Russia and forced to go through a tacky assortment of fast food outlets en route to meetings or concerts in the ICC / Symphony Hall".

It is important to note that whatever the final decision, the council will proceed as planned with delivering the Library of Birmingham integrated with The REP by 2013. English Heritage are keen to point out that listing is not a preservation order - demolition of the building would not be ruled out.

Statement below from Birmingham City Council and Birmingham Civic Society

Clive Dutton, Birmingham City Council Director of Planning and Regeneration, said:
"While we are disappointed that English Heritage has recommended that the Central Library should receive Grade II listing status, we'd stress that this forms just one part of the immunity from listing process and we still await a final decision from DCMS.

"Previously in 2002 English Heritage made a similar recommendation to DCMS, however this was refused by the Minister at the time.

"We are firmly committed to working with English Heritage and the Government to ensure the much-needed multi-million pound comprehensive regeneration of Paradise Circus can occur.

"Paradise Circus is a highly dysfunctional part of the city centre which must be redeveloped to improve connectivity and secure Westside's long-term success. The removal of the Central Library building is critical to achieve this.

"We'd like to make it clear that whatever the final outcome, it will in no way affect our plans to develop the new Library of Birmingham as an integrated cultural facility with Birmingham Repertory Theatre on Centenary Square ready for 2013".

Freddie Gick, Chair of the Birmingham Civic Society, said:
"While there are many buildings in the city centre that would merit protection and which the Birmingham Civic Society would seek to preserve, this library building is not one of them. We have already made public our view that the building needs to be replaced as the home of our library and that its removal would provide a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a new high quality development that could be there for several centuries".

The Library of Birmingham