New square at heart of de­vel­op­ment

Birmingham Post - - NEWS - Neil Elkes Lo­cal Govern­ment Cor­re­spon­dent

ONE of Birm­ing­ham’s largest city cen­tre re­gen­er­a­tion projects will cre­ate a public space the size of Vic­to­ria Square, city plan­ners have been told.

The large space in the Con­naught Square de­vel­op­ment in Dig­beth will fea­ture a re­newed River Rea and be used for mar­kets, pa­rades and fes­ti­vals.

Fur­ther de­tails emerged as de­vel­oper Seven Cap­i­tal pre­sented the scheme – one of the largest re­gen­er­a­tion projects in Birm­ing­ham – to the city coun­cil’s plan­ning com­mit­tee for the first time.

It also an­nounced that the num­ber of flats pro­posed had been cut from 940 in orig­i­nal plans is­sued late last year, down to 724 and that the 1960s JFK mo­saic memo­rial could be re­sited from across the High Street to the new square.

Sur­rounded by four blocks, in­clud­ing a 20-storey tower block, the River Rea will be opened up for the fist time in a cen­tury and sweep through the de­vel­op­ment. A pedes- trian bridge and new street will also be cre­ated.

De­vel­op­ment spokesman Ger­ard Sweeney said: “In terms of public space Con­naught Square is roughly 5,000 square me­tres, that’s the same as Vic­to­ria Square.”

Pre­vi­ous plans for Con­naught Square, on Dig­beth High Street were ap­proved in 2008 but never de­liv­ered due to the eco­nomic down­turn.

Plan­ning com­mit­tee mem­bers were sup­port­ive of the long-awaited de­vel­op­ment.

Cllr Peter Dou­glas Os­born (Cons, We­o­ley) said: “The river open­ing up is a plus for it, as is the public area and three-bed­room flats in­tro­duc­ing a fam­ily as­pect to the area. All in all this is a mag­nif­i­cent Seven Cap­i­tal project.”

While there was sup­port for the over­all de­vel­op­ment, coun­cil­lors did raise con­cerns over the high num­ber of smaller sin­gle per­son apart­ments pro­posed.

Coun­cil­lors also called for more char­ac­ter to be added to the de­signs of the 20-storey tower.

Seven Cap­i­tal will con­sider the com­ments be­fore re­turn­ing for a fi­nal de­ci­sion later this year.

> Pro­posed plans for the Con­naught Square de­vel­op­ment in Dig­beth

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