The first stage of the long-awaited Arena Central development in Birmingham city centre is set to be approved – in a move which could kick-start development in a key city centre location.
The derelict site, formerly home to the Central television studios off Broad Street, has been awaiting development for more than a decade as first problems with tower block policy in the light of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and then the economic downturn hit the scheme.
Now plans for an eye-catching 18-storey Holiday Inn Express, on the Holliday Street side of the plot, are set to be approved and could kick start the remaining development.
The hotel will back onto a proposed Arena Square, surrounded by office blocks and the proposed V-Building, which at 51 storeys would be Birmingham’s tallest tower.
The V-building already has planning permission, as long as construction begins by 2015. That prospect may have now moved a step closer with the planning application for the hotel submitted by developer Centre Island Ltd.
The 210-bedroom hotel will stand on the site of a former car park, and the new building is to include an independent health and fitness club with swimming pool, gym and spa and link to the existing Crown Plaza Hotel, which is part of the same group.
An amended masterplan for the entire Arena Central site, which includes an increase in office and hotel space at the expense of unpopular apartments, has also been submitted.
The design of the new hotel, in a similar style to the nearby Cube building, will attract most comment.
In a report to the committee, planning officer Joanne Todd said: “The building would be constructed in a mix of lightweight aluminium cladding, render and glazing, in a mix of tonal colours of black, grey and white.
“More, specifically, the main bedroom block, from level four upwards, would be wrapped in aluminium cladding to create a continuous, flowing tonal variation in a ‘pixel’ fashion, reminiscent of the historic TV use of the site.”
So far the plans have attracted praise and been recommended for approval as it could kick start the long-overdue development of this crucial city centre site. The site’s masterplan has been altered to switch the emphasis from unpopular city living apartments towards more office space and commercial uses. Maximum office content will be increased from 400,000 sq ft to up to 800,000 sq ft.
Jonathan Wallis, development director of Miller Developments has previously stated: “Arena Central is one of Birmingham’s most strategically located regeneration schemes and the inclusion of this Holiday Inn Express will provide a considerable boost to the city’s burgeoning hotel market.
“The design team has created a unique proposition for this city centre site, providing new hotel accommodation and enhanced links to both the existing Crown Plaza Hotel and the proposed future Arena Central Square, while reflecting and respecting the history and future vision of the city of Birmingham.”
Arena Central is a 7.6-acre regeneration site at the heart of Birmingham city centre and forms a significant part of Birmingham’s vision for the city’s Westside, as set out in the Big City Plan. Developers have set a target date to start on site in June next year, with the hotel to open by January 2015.