I was very sad not to be in Birmingham today and support the campaign to Save Island House. Architect and Urban Designer Joe Holyoak went to the Birmingham City Council Planning Committee this morning and has written a good report of what went on:
Planning Committee this morning gave consent to the application (2011/08448/PA) by Armac Demolition for approval for the method of demolition of Island House. It was given reluctantly, in the knowledge that it had no alternative. Several councillors spoke strongly against the proposed demolition, and there were no voices in disagreement.
There is one remaining basis on which demolition might be stopped. When outline approval (C/07395/06/OUT) was given to the City Park Gate masterplan, of which Island House formed part, in 2006, the owner Quintain entered into a Section 111 legal agreement in which among other things Quintain undertook to retain and refurbish Island House. This agreement is still in force.
Quintain have now made a Deed of Variation, in which they are asking BCC to delete this part of the agreement. It is open for consultation until 6th February, and then has to come to Planning Committee for determination. It appears that if Planning Committee are minded not to change the agreement, then demolition cannot legally take place. So it is vital that as many people as possible write to the planning officer Joanne McCallion, objecting to the Deed of Variation. [You can register your objection online.]
Quintain’s actions were described by Councillor John Clancy in Planning Committee as “reprehensible”. If Quintain are as insensitive and ruthless as they appear to be, the worst possible outcome is that they demolish the building anyway, and have their lawyers argue after the event about the costs and penalties for breaking the agreement. Even before Planning Committee, scaffolding was being erected around Island House. [See above photo]
It’s pretty clear what we all need to do to try and save this historic gem – register your objection to Quintain’s Deed of Variation before 6th February!
Here are some links to posts elsewhere concerning today’s proceedings (I’ll add more as they crop up):
- Confusion reigns in the planning committee – ‘Accountability around planning in this country seems rather muddled and it seems agreements are struck behind closed doors that even democratically elected members are unable to do anything about’ says Joe Peacock of Birmingham Friends of the Earth.
- Eastside planning row could provide big pay day for lawyers – ‘This one could run and run, at least until they start laying the high speed rail tracks’ says Paul M Dale.
- Legal contract could save Birmingham’s 100-year-old Island House from demolition – Birmingham Post report.
- The strange tale of Island House – by Neil Elkes on Jan 27. ‘The tale of Island House has exposed the limitations, the complexities and the legal difficulties of the planning process.’