Downing the ziggurat

Alan Clawley poses a demolition query.

I’ve seen many buildings demolished but I’m struggling to see how the ‘ziggurat’ of the Central Library can come down anytime soon especially as the Conservatoire and the Copthorne Hotel are expected to carry on as normal for the next few years.

When the ziggurat does come down the thousands of people who walk through Paradise Forum from New Street to Centenary Square will have to be diverted safely round the demolition site. There is only one possible route, one using Fletchers Walk, the Queensway underpass and the pedestrian crossing on Broad Street. The existing pedestrian bridge over the West arm of Paradise Circus Queensway would have to be kept open to serve the Copthorne Hotel which will be uncomfortably close to the potential ziggurat demolition zone.

The easiest building to demolish in the short term is the free-standing office block known as Number 77 on the north end of Paradise Circus. Anything else would have to wait until the Eastern arm of the Paradise Circus Queensway is closed to traffic. The bridge over the road between the Library and the Council House couldn’t be demolished with traffic roaring underneath it. Chamberlain House, the black and red mirror image of the Copthorne Hotel, could be removed without too much difficulty.

The low-rise Lending Block of the Library would also be quite easy to dispose of as it stands on the concrete platform which could protect the traffic below. I was told by Argent that the concrete platform would remain in place during Phase One but why would a new office building be built on it if it is only temporary?

The problem with the ziggurat is that it almost overhangs the Conservatoire and the Copthorne Hotel. A long-armed concrete-muncher could work from inside the atrium but the removal of the external cladding and the overhanging structure would have to be done from outside the building. There would need to be space around it for the machines to reach the top storey and for the rubble to drop to the ground to be taken away. To do this safely, given the close proximity of the occupied Conservatoire and the hotel, looks difficult if not impossible. It would make sense for it to be postponed until the Conservatoire can be demolished.

One of the conditions attached to the Outline Planning Approval granted in 2012 is that the applicant submits a Demolition Method Statement before work on site can begin. I have asked the Planning Department if this condition has been met and have also requested a copy of the Demolition Method Statement. I am looking forward to a reply.

6 thoughts on “Downing the ziggurat

  1. Thanks..and the quicker the demolition takes place the better. One touching thing I have noticed is the teenaged lovers cuddling and giggling in front of the old library have moved their romances to the new library. Very endearing.

  2. Just pay someone enough money and you can overcome any problem and acheive anything (other than most of the things that actually matter in life). If the Music school gets a whopping block of concrete falling on it and destroying one of its Bosendorfer grands along with a pianist or two, that will have been an unforseen accident fully covered by insurance. Sir Albert’s not going to be hauled into a dock in consequence.
    Ditto the Crapthorne Hotel. Oh and look how many jobs have already been lost at the two pubs and several restaurants (2 Japanese) now closed – no pain without gain!

  3. I’ve just invented a new really easy (and only) way of demolishing ziggurats without disturbing any surrounding ahem “architecture”. I’m open to £££offers from anyone wanting to own this patent whether for positive use purposes or as a preventive spoiler.

  4. Alan, do you know who is paying for the demolition – Argent, Birmingham City Council? And if it’s BCC, how much is it costing?

  5. Steve
    I believe the Local Enterprise Partnership is footing the bill via a £61 million grant under the Regeneration Zone status given to Paradise Circus. It is also paying for the road alterations that are claimed to improve ‘connectivity’.The City couldn’t to give me any documentation to back this up as they told me there wasn’t any. The LEP moves in mysterious ways and appears to borrow the money it lavishes on the EZs by borrowing it on the strength of the Business Rate uplift that will be produced if and when the finished development is occupied. This form of gambllng with public money is known as Tax Incremental Funding.

    • Well, the great news is wre’re having yet more unrequested improvements forced on us. Bus users are going to become even more fit from running/walking/limping between stops, and sales of segways and skateboards and mini-scooters will soar.

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