400-unit apartment plan set for go ahead despite opposition

How the apartments complex could look

Plans for more than 400 new apartments in Birmingham are set for the go ahead despite objections from conservationists they could overshadow one of the city’s famous buildings.

Developer St Joseph has submitted plans to Birmingham City Council for the new development, which would occupy the site of the FGF warehouses in Shadwell Street.

The scheme, dubbed Snow Hill Wharf – partly because it backs on to the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal, would see the demolition of the warehousing and their replacement with five residential blocks, ranging from three to 21-storeys, encompassing 404 one, two and three-bedroom apartments.

The tower aspect of the scheme would be around 65m high.

The development would also provide 1,770sqm of private open space and 2,483sqm of communal gardens. There would also be a residents lounge, a large gym and parking space for 147 cars.

However, Historic England has objected to the plan on the grounds it would cause harm to the significance of the Grade II* listed St Chad’s Cathedral and of the cluster of Grade II listed buildings in the historic Gun Quarter.

St Chad’s Cathedral lies diagonally opposite the site and the conservation body said anything which jeopardised the status of the site – which is in the top 8% of listed buildings in the country – should be avoided.

It said the scene around the cathedral had already been adversely impacted by the dominance of the three new buildings at Snowhill.

Historic England has been supported in its view by the Victorian Society, which has said the plan should be refused because the massing of the site would have a detrimental impact on the area surrounding the cathedral.

The Canal and Rovers Trust has also objected to the scheme, claiming it would have an overbearing impact on the canal corridor and reduce the attractiveness of the adjacent canal infrastructure.

The Archdiocese of Birmingham has said it has no objection in principle to the redevelopment but felt maximising housing numbers should not be at the expense of the setting of the cathedral.

Richard Starkey, managing director at St Joseph Homes, said: “St Joseph is committed to the future of Birmingham and the West Midlands. Our flagship Snow Hill Wharf development is set to bring a new standard of build quality and placemaking to the city, with the creation of a new community in the historic Gun Quarter and further developments planned across the region.”

He said the developer hoped to form a long-term partnership with Birmingham, its residents and its businesses, and wanted to play its part in shaping the city’s residential market.

The Gun Quarter is identified as an area of regeneration within Birmingham’s Big City Masterplan.

Despite the objections, councillors on Thursday’s planning committee have been recommended to approve the scheme, subject to a Section 106 agreement.

The agreement requires the developer to make financial contributions of £500,000 toward off-site affordable housing and £308,000 towards improvements to the stretch of canal towpath between Barker Bridge and the Snow Hill Undercroft.