431 Hagley Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham
Grade II, 1907, architect unknown Only part of the façade of this Arts and Crafts house has survived fire damage and dereliction over many years. Proposals for demolition of what remains and replacement with sheltered accommodation are apparently on hold, whilst the adjacent ruinous but unlisted house, of 1909 by George Devall, at 435, is currently being restored and brought back into residential use. Both houses are located within the Barnsley Road Conservation Area of Edgbaston. The status of 431 reflects the issues which have led to the current threat of de-designation of the area, in particular loss of buildings and the erosion of character. A very sad precedent was set with the demolition of the group of fine Victorian and Edwardian houses opposite at 322-336 Hagley Road, previously reported in July 2010 and July 2011, and their replacement with a large care facility. Further unacceptable loss may threaten other better kept properties nearby. We hope that instead of removing designation altogether, the boundary of the conservation area will be redrawn by the council to focus on a core of remaining good buildings, and we still consider that 431 should be reinstated in the manner of its neighbour 435.
Brandauer Works, New John Street West, Birmingham
Grade II, c1850, extended c1870 and 1898. Steel pen nibs manufactured by Brandauer were used throughout the world in the late Victorian and Edwardian periods. Since the company relocated to more modern premises nearby in 2001, these imposing Victorian factory buildings have stood isolated and vulnerable beside Birmingham’s Ring Road. We commented on proposals in 2012 to convert the property to a hotel, but these were never implemented. Recently we have been consulted on a proposed refurbishment of the factory and its conversion to student accommodation, and feel able to support the scheme following amendments to the plans which have reduced the amount of extension to the distinctive tall and narrow listed buildings. Work on repairing and securing the derelict factory is already underway, and this project is one of several similar sympathetic proposals for the adaptation to residential use of derelict historic factory buildings. We hope they will bring much needed regeneration to the city’s ‘Gun Quarter’.
Louisa Ryland House, Newhall Street and Edmund Street, Birmingham
Grade II, 1882-3 by William Ward Only the facades of the listed former Parish Offices and Board of Guardians building were retained in the 1980s redevelopment of this site at the heart of the Colmore Row Conservation Area. The elevations to Newhall and Edmund Streets are both long and well-proportioned in a French Renaissance style. A replacement of the modern structure behind the facades is proposed to upgrade the office accommodation. Plans for a new accessible entrance have been amended to be more appropriate for the regular rhythm of the exterior, but we still object to the substantial replacement mansard roofs which would add two storeys to the historic facades and damage their proportions. The rebuilt higher building would also join awkwardly to the neighbouring grade I listed School of Art, which it looks likely to overshadow. Such unwelcome proposals for upward extension are becoming more frequent in this conservation area at the heart of the city’s business district.
Land at Holland Street, Birmingham
Unlisted Although Holland Street in the Jewellery Quarter Conservation Area is lined with 20th century buildings, it is paved with Victorian stone setts and forms an attractive approach from the south towards the imposing grade II listed Newhall Works on George Street, built for pin and wire manufacture in a classical style in 1847 by Edelstein and Williams. Proposals by Birmingham City University to develop a campus in this area include the replacement of the Holland Street buildings with new structures linked by a glass canopy across the street and the closure of the street as a public highway. We have objected to both the introduction of the highly intrusive canopy and the loss of the street as a thoroughfare, which will disrupt the historic grid plan of streets in this part of the Jewellery Quarter. We hope the university might take a more sympathetic approach to the character of the conservation area, particularly as their proposals for the rest of this site include the reopening as a cycleway of the line of a long-lost section of canal known as the Whitmore Arms.
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