In the Stirrer [24.6.08] Birmingham’s planning chief Clive Dutton reacted angrily to a recommendation by English Heritage that it should be listed. Alan Clawley, the Friends of the Central Library campaigner replied: 

We welcome the English Heritage report on the Central Library which unequivocally vindicates our long-held view of the high architectural quality of the building. 

English Heritage has recognised the widespread regard for the Library held by many well-informed and respected individuals and organisations as well as Friends of the Central Library. 

We have won the Listing argument on the architectural merit of the building whilst the Council’s chief advisor Clive Dutton advised Councillors wrongly that it was of “no architectural merit”. 

Mr Dutton is already publicly rehearsing the arguments he will have to present when the Library is listed but, in our view, it is only then that these wider arguments should be aired properly through the planning process. 

We are confident that we can win those arguments when the time comes but we are concerned that the Minister will be distracted and influenced at this stage by issues that are nothing to do with the architectural merit of the building, the airing of which will prejudice her decision and anticipate what will happen after listing is confirmed. 

We note that the Department of Culture Media and Sport have invited all those who have made representations to submit comments but that “…future plans for redevelopment, cost of up keep etc. are not considerations that can be taken into account in reaching a listing decision and would be treated as background only.” [our emphasis]. 

However because Mr Dutton has already used his position to air a number of such arguments in anticipation of listing we would harm our cause by not refuting them.

Mr Dutton’s claims are merely the latest in a series of unfounded justifications for demolishing the library and disposing of assets to a private developer that were once designated to the Civic Centre. 

The claims made by Mr Dutton to support the demolition of the Library (Birmingham Post 21 June) and which we propose to refute in full are:

  • Poor physical state of building
  • Cost of modernisation of building 

Demolition will:

  • Provide an opportunity to replace existing building with a new building of greater quality 
  • “open up view of buildings the very essence of Birmingham, the clock tower on the art gallery and museum and the dome of the council house are views which haven’t been seen for 35 years” 
  • “take out traffic that goes thundering past the town hall” 
  • “create a 360-degree view of world class buildings”. 

Our complete rebuttal of all these claims and any others that emerge will be made public and submitted to the Department of Culture Media and Sport.