Report on the Free Public Meeting – Update on City Centre Infrastructure Projects

eMag logo 100x75The meeting took place as previously advertised on this site on 8 February 2014 at the Library of Birmingham. Organised by the CCNF (City Centre Neighbourhood Forum) key people from Argent and Centro gave attendees an update on the current status and future plans for  Paradise Circus and the Metro tram system.

Paradise Circus

IMG_0541Rob Groves, Senior Project Director of Argent Services, delivered an informative illustrated presentation on the present and future of this important city site.

Planning and Developers

The redevelopment of paradise Circus is to be by Argent in partnership with BCC (Birmingham City Council).

Argent is the company responsible for the highly successful Brindleyplace development which is a similar mixed use scheme.

Learning from the success of this Argent went on to develop other successful sites such as the renaissance of the Manchester Piccadilly area, the Northern Quarter and St. Peter’s Square and, lately, Kings CRoss Station in London. Lessons learned in these developments will feed into the Paradise Circus development.

Outline planning permission was granted by BCC in February 2013. Argent will be delivering the proposals in conjunction with a team of professional advisers and consultants including Gary Taylor’s Altitude Real Estate.

The site will have 1.7 million sq.ft. of internal  floorspace, predominantly office space as there is a great need for this with City Centre Grade A space likely to run out by the end of 2015.

The intention is to provide a lively mix of uses to create a vibrant and exciting new part of the city with traffic-free streets and an enhanced setting for the historic buildings by creating unrestricted views

Connected City

In line with BCC’s plans for Birmingham to be a connected city, there will be improved visual  links with Centenary Square and hence the much visited hot spots of the Library of Birmingham, ICC, Symphony and Hall and thence improved connection to Brindleyplace and the NIA.

A key feature is improved connectivity to the Jewellery Quarter, New Street Station  and shopping centres including Bullring and the new Grand Central above New Street Station.


The current underpass road which is part of the Paradise Circus Queensway roundabout and linking Great Charles Street with Bristol Street will no longer exist. All traffic will use a 2-way carriageway replacing the current one way road adjacent to the west side of paradise forum passing under the current link bridge to Centenary Square which will remain.

Congreve Passage which links Great Charles Street with Chamberlain Square will become Congreve Street and will be much wider and become a main route into the Jewellery Quarter with a pedestrian priority crossing of Great Charles Street.


Coexisting with the offices and occupying ground and first floor levels will be retail, catering and leisure areas to make it a place for people to enjoy including; two open public squares will be provided at the north and south of the development. Also, Chamberlain Square will be revamped to provide an open auditorium with improved permanent public seating for recreation and events.

There will be a hotel to replace the existing Copthorne hotel and a 450 seat Adrian Boult Concert Hall.

There will be 500 car park spaces underground and this is deliberately limited as it is hoped that alternate transport methods to the site will increase, – walking, cycling and public transport – in line with BCC’s Mobility plans for the city. There will be a secure cycle park and hopefully lockers and showers for office staff.

The site will complement Bullring and Centenary Square offerings but not compete with them.

Plans for an enhanced replacement Conservatoire are only in the early stages and the location within the city not yet decided.


The first phase will include the new road structure demolition of existing buildings and development of two buildings and public spaces.

  • Spring 2014 Design of Phase 1 buildings
  • Spring 2014 Procurement of infrastructure contractor
  • Autumn 2014 Procurement of Phase 1 building contractor
  • Autumn 2014 Enabling works – stripping out of existing buildings – demolition
  • Early 2015 Start of Phase 1 works
  • Autumn 2015 Start of Phase 1 buildings
  • 2017/18 Phase 1 infrastructure and buildings complete.
  • 2018/19 Start of phase 2
  • Overall development timescale 10 years.

Metro Extension and Future Plans

IMG_2403Peter Adams, Metro Commercial and Development Manager at Centro presented the current, in progress and planned extent of the Metro tram system.

Current Situation

Line 1 opened in May 1999 and the 21km route connects  main line stations Snow Hill in Birmingham and St Georges in Wolverhampton. The 16 tram system has 23 stops and transports 5 million people each year.

In Progress Extension

This extension is from Snow Hill and skirts the west side carriageway of Colmore Circus, into Bull Street then takes a right turn down Corporation Street to New Street. It then continues along Stephenson Street terminating by the new northern entrance to New Street station. This is 1.2km in length and as well as providing  fast connection between the two stations brings passengers into the heart of the city centre with stops along the way in Bull Street and Corporation Street.

Line 1 platform builds were completed over Easter 2013 followed by modifications to the existing tram fleet. The Wednesbury Depot needs to be extended and is to complete in Autumn 2014.

A new improved fleet of 20 trams is under construction in Zaragova, Spain. Three have been delivered to Wednesbury and will go into service on the existing route in Summer 2014. The whole fleet should be delivered ready to go into service when the extension opens in Spring 2015.

Preparation of the extension is well under way with diversion of street utility apparatus nearing completion and track laying along Bull Street well in progress.

Future Extension

Funding is within the Enterprise Zone Investment Plan with additional funding from the GBSLEP Local Transport Board.

This will take the tracks to the end of Stephenson Street, up Pinfold Street to the Town Hall then along Paradise Street and round the south side of Paradise Circus Queensway into Broad Street, terminating outside Symphony Hall. There will be a new stop  along the way at Victoria Square.

The works are to be coordinated with the Paradise Circus development described above.

The Broad Street terminus will provide efficient interchange with the proposed Sprint Bus and current city buses. It will be sited as close as possible to key destinations and will be integrated with the forthcoming enhancements to Centenary Square.

Future Timescales

  • Sep – Dec 2014 Transport & Works Act Order made
  • Jan 2015 Commence utility diversions
  • Jan 2015 – 2018 Complementary highway works
  • Jan 2015 Paradise Circus Phase 1 highway works
  • Mar 2016 Commence Metro main works
  • Oct 2017 Paradise Circus Phase 2 highway works
  • Dec 2018 Works complete
  • Mar 2019 Trams in service

Benefits of Metro Extensions

As part of the Birmingham City Centre Enterprise Zone project, the extensions will improve communications around the city from the rail stations and create an attractive environment for business expansion by UK and world companies.

The extensions should also encourage tourism and leisure into the area and should reinforce the established success of Brindleyplace. The new extensions should encourage visitors to the attractions of the area – Library of Birmingham, Symphony Hall, Rep Theatre, ICC and NIA.

It is planned that Centenary Square will become the most important outdoor area of the city attracting major events. The connectivity provided by the extensions is key to this.


Please add your views on the above as a comment below.

Article by Geoff Caine

About Geoff Caine

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