Activists challenge Birmingham’s Ringway Centre demolition plans

Smallbrook Queensway images from Corstorphine+Wright

Activists have applied for a judicial review aimed at halting the demolition of a 1960s office complex in Birmingham.

In a decision taken in February, Birmingham planning officials voted to replace the Ringway Centre with three residential blocks.

Developer CEG was given the go-ahead, with seven votes to four, to demolish the iconic building on Grade B-listed land and build up to 1,750 apartments across 44, 48 and 56 storeys in its place.

The Save Smallbrook collective argues for the preservation and repurposing of the structure, citing grounds for a legal challenge and advocating for an alternative solution, positing that it could be executed with a reduced carbon footprint and in a shorter timeframe.

Designed by James Roberts, acclaimed for Birmingham’s Rotunda, the structure is heralded by campaigners as an example of brutalist architecture in the city.

However, developers have countered, stating that the project aims to introduce new public areas to “rejuvenate the locality” and draw in fresh visitors.

It has been said that 15% of affordable housing provision will be topped up to 20% in partnership with the West Midlands Combined Authority. The majority of these will be three-bedroom family homes at a 30% discount.

Around 95% of the building’s existing fabric will be recycled, with the remaining 5% composed of asbestos and other materials that cannot be reused.

Twentieth Century Society (C20), placed Smallbrook Ringway on its 2023 Risk List of the top 10 buildings in the UK most under threat.

Save Smallbrook comprises a coalition of Brutiful Birmingham, Birmingham Modernist Society, the Twentieth Century Society, Zero Carbon House, and Birmingham Fair Housing Campaign.

The group case will be lead by barrister Estelle Dehon KC as its legal representation.

A documentary chronicling the campaign’s narrative has been produced and is set to debut at Birmingham’s Flatpack Film Festival on May 11th.

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