In December Alan Clawley lodged planning objections to the proposed design for Paradise Circus.  He opened:

Members of the Planning Committee,

“Our principal objection is that the proposed design fails to live up to the claims made by the developer. In particular, Chamberlain Square will not be improved by the demolition of the Library.  These two images, produced by the applicants and published in the Birmingham Post, make our point”.

Chamberlain Square2_

central library argent 6 plan Argent kindly supplied these images

But the council would not allow him to show Argent’s pictorial comparison of the present with their design for the future. He continued:

“The computer generated pictures were intended to show that the new buildings will make a better setting for the heritage buildings in Chamberlain Square than the Central Library.

“They show instead that Madin’s Library is the more sympathetic to its surroundings. In the future image, the Chamberlain Memorial is made almost invisible by the fussy facades which surround it. In the present day image, the shadowed underside of the Library’s inverted ziggurat gives it a perfect backdrop.

“Madin deliberately chose plain geometric surfaces to set off the detail of the surrounding buildings. He wanted the cladding panels to be of the same colour and texture. He could have used glass and aluminium as he did elsewhere but he knew exactly what he was doing.


“The Library building is entirely capable of being refurbished for a new use. You need only look at the Mailbox, the Rotunda, the Ikon Gallery, and Fort Dunlop to see how developers and architects like Argent, Urban Splash and Glenn Howells can refurbish and find exciting new uses for old buildings in Birmingham.

“We urge you to take time to consider an alternative to the scheme before you today, one that will leave in the heart of the city a truly iconic building designed by Birmingham’s foremost modern architect”.


Alan Clawley, Friends of the Central Library, 20 December 2012

For a fuller exploration of the subject go to

The outcome: