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Brum council to CPO land for LCR's 1m sq ft plus office led city centre scheme

By Paul Norman - Tuesday, February 13, 2018 15:00

Birmingham city council’s Cabinet is set to approve a Compulsory Purchase Order for land needed for London & Continental Railways’s plans for an 1m sq ft-plus office led regeneration scheme called Axis Square on Holliday Street in the city centre after delays to negotiations with leasehold interests in the site.

Birmingham’s Cabinet meets tonight to approve the CPO which would acquire the third party interests in, and new rights at, the Axis Site in Birmingham.

All costs, expenses and compensation arising from the CPO will be met by the developer, London and Continental Railway, the quasi-government body set up to develop on major sites around railways, notably the Channel Tunnel Rail Link and Eurostar developments.

The approval includes preparation of the s16 notice allowing notices to be served on parties with an interest in the land and authorises the Assistant Director Property, if the opportunity arises, in liaison with LCR, to negotiate for and acquire the third party interests in the land in advance of, and alongside, making the CPO.

LCR has been in discussion with those whose interests are required for the development.

The 4.2-acre Axis site lies on the edge of the city core, between the Mailbox and the emerging Arena Central development on the south side of Broad Street. It is also close to the major Paradise redevelopment.

The site, which was a railway depot in the 1920s, is home to the 11-storey The Axis, a 1970s building.

LCR's proposal includes:

 

  • four commercial office buildings, ranging from 5 to 23 storeys
  • 950,000 sq ft of offices
  • Designs and materials that complement city centre structures
  • Underground parking, along with cycle and motorcycle facilities
  • Approximately 30,000 sq ft of ground floor retail uses, including food and drink
  • A public square for workers and members of the public
  • Retained trees and landscaping, with new features added

Full planning consent for the development of a first phase building was granted in April 2017 following the signing of a Section 106 agreement. Outline planning consent for the second phase was granted in October, 2017, following the signing of a Town and Country Planning Act 1990 Section 106 agreement.

The schemes comprise the redevelopment of the site with four office-led mixed-use buildings, including active ground floor uses and redefined street frontages, around a public square.

Council planners said the existing use of the site is “extremely inefficient and the site is under-utilised”.

It adds: “The implementation of the planning approvals through comprehensive redevelopment of the Axis Site will deliver significant regeneration benefits, supporting the economic growth and prosperity of the City and enhancing the overall environmental quality and pedestrian connectivity between destinations and new surrounding developments. The approved proposals will transform this key site acting as a catalyst for continued transformation of this part of the City Centre with its strategic location, positioned between the established City Core and the Westside area that includes Brindley Place, the Library of Birmingham, Arena Central and the Mailbox. “

Planners report that in order to implement the planning consents, the developer requires possession of a few private interests in the site – all of a leasehold nature and has been “unable to acquire despite its best efforts”.

Planners add: “If the site is not acquired and regenerated, the opportunity to expand the city core with a large scale office led, mixed use, sustainable development (and the associated public benefits) will be lost.”

It adds: “This would mean that this part of the city centre would fall behind other parts in terms of the quality of development and accommodation offer, particularly in terms of office floorspace. In addition, the existing leasehold structure would still exist, and so the same delivery issues faced by LCR now, would continue to apply at that point.”

pnorman@costar.co.uk

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