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Reverse ‘heritage vandalism’ of listed Birmingham building

Birmingham City Council must take fresh action against the owner of the Grade II listed Zara’s restaurant on Broad Street.

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The Victorian Society is urging Birmingham City Council to take fresh action against the owner of the Grade II listed Zara’s restaurant on Broad Street. Last year, the Council took enforcement action to remove a huge smoking canopy covering the front of the building. Now owner, Pete Sangha, has built an even bigger canopy and added inappropriate signage further obscuring the face building. The Society urges the Council to take enforcement action once again. Failure to tackle such a flagrant breach of planning law sends the wrong signal to the owners of other listed buildings.

Stephen Hartland, West Midlands Victorian Society Chair, said: ‘This prominent city centre building has been disfigured for too long. Many other restaurants around the country are run successfully in listed buildings. Mr Sangha should see his building as an asset. However, it is evident he does not. The Council must now take further enforcement action to ensure this heritage vandalism is rectified - or risk losing its credibility as the guardian of Birmingham’s historic buildings.

As recently as May 2012, Zara’s restaurant was surrounded by grass, mature trees and picnic benches. This created an attractive setting for the listed building and provided an important green ‘lung’ on an otherwise densely developed city centre street. A year later the grass and trees were removed and replaced with a huge wood and plastic canopy. Birmingham City Council rejected Mr Sangha’s application for retrospective planning permission with the chairman of Birmingham’s Conservation Panel, Councillor Barry Henley, stating that the ‘appalling structure… should be removed as soon as possible’. Birmingham City Council took enforcement action and eventually the offending canopy was removed. However, it was quickly replaced with an even bigger shelter and huge inappropriate signs affixed to the front of the building.  The Society urges the Council to take enforcement action once again.

The Broad Street restaurant is housed in the 1815 former Islington Glassworks building. It was extended in 1863, probably by J.J. Bateman, when it was the Lying-In Hospital. The 1869 gate piers on Broad Street are by Martin and Chamberlain. 

Tuesday 15 December, 2015

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