Planners approve £35m hotel scheme for Birmingham landmark

Plans for the £35m conversion of a landmark Birmingham building into a new hotel have been approved.

Ciel Capital is proposing the conversion of the Grade II* listed Methodist Central Hall, based on designs by architecture firm ICA.

Not only will the conversion improve the amount of quality hotel space in the city it will also save an historic building from falling to complete disrepair.

The Corporation Street building is in such poor condition currently that it has been placed on Historic England’s Heritage At Risk register.

Once completed, the proposals will see the redbrick and terracotta building restored and renovated to provide a 147-room hotel and 75-room apart-hotel units, plus new units on the ground floor for food, beverage and retail uses.

The plans also include additional storeys, a rooftop bar, live music venue and meeting space. The project team anticipates breaking ground as soon as this summer, with a target date of completion in 2020.

Ciel has already earmarked the influx of visitors to the city for events such as the 2022 Commonwealth as one of the prime reasons for committing to the development.

The development will also restore and open up public access to the Central Hall by creating a new ‘Gastro Hall’ (see below), complete with a show kitchen. The improvements will involve the careful restoration of the central organ which has suffered damage over time and will be showcased in a mezzanine bar overlooking the Hall.

The food and beverage offerings will be locally sourced to reflect the character of the area.

The building was originally designed by Birmingham architects Ewan Harper and James A. Harper. After several years of use as a nightclub, it is currently empty and unused.

Prior to Ciel’s acquisition of the building, it was subject to several planning applications made by previous owners, which proposed uses such as apartments and offices.

The hotel will be operated by Dream Hotel Group, which has chosen Birmingham as the location for its first site in the UK.

The “Stow-Away” branded apart-hotel will be operated by BridgeStreet Global Hospitality, a leading provider of apart-hotels.

The development is expected to generate around 100 jobs and is hoped to be a catalyst to further investment in area which has been starved of funds in recent years in comparison with the rest of the city centre.

Jason Wischhoff, VP Development Europe & Africa for Dream Hotel Group said: “We are delighted that the plans for the former Methodist Central Hall have been approved. This step marks Dream Hotel Group’s first entrance into the European market, building off our success in the United States, South East Asia and across the globe.

“It’s an exciting time in Birmingham, with preparations for the 2022 Commonwealth Games underway, and once complete, the new hotel will add another jewel to the city’s crown.”

Vedrana Bilanovic Riley, Chief Executive of Ciel Capital, added: “We are delighted to have received planning permission for our plans for the former Methodist Central Hall. The project team has been working hard over the past few months to ensure that our plans deliver a sensitive restoration of the iconic building, and we look forward to getting started.”

Birmingham City Council leader, Cllr Ian Ward, said: “This exciting development will give the beautiful building a new lease of life. Big things are happening in Birmingham at the moment and the new Central Hall is a spectacular mixture of the old and the new. The project will also create jobs and training opportunities for the people of this city.”

How the Gastro Hall will look