Archives for posts with tag: Madin Library

Google images of the two libraries

Friends of the Madin Library – noting the amazing  readership response on this site to the news of Jane Lapotaire’s forthcoming reading at Woodbrooke – might consider meeting her next Sunday.

The Google images are testimony to the quality of Madin’s structure – and its interior is no less worthy of modification and reuse.




News on the grapevine is that an authority on celebrated concrete buildings is working out how to project images of the Madin library on to one of the fly towers of the National Theatre (below).

national theatre illuminated flytower

Public regret about the proposed wasteful and polluting demolition of the Madin Library will be re-energised as concern mounts about road closures and the subsequent disruption to motorists and bus users in Paradise Circus early in the New Year.

Alan Clawley (Friends of the Central Library) asks why the Paradise developers are in such a hurry to demolish the Central Library. He points out:

  • plans for the first two office blocks have not yet been submitted,
  • no tenants are waiting to move in
  • and the developers are yet to comply with 55 conditions attached to their 2012 Outline Planning permission.

The only convincing explanation for this unseemly haste that occurs to him is that the Certificate of Immunity from Listing expires in January 2016 and there is every chance that supporters of the Library will succeed in getting it listed.

Rob Groves, Senior Project Director with the Argent Group which will develop 17 acres of Paradise – aka office, retail and hotel space – is well aware that English Heritage, the Twentieth Century Society, the World Monuments Fund and at least half the population want to see the Madin building retained and reused.

Clawley ends: “In the 12 years since I wrote my first letter to the Post about the Library public opinion has moved on. The Brutalist concrete Preston Bus Station that once faced demolition has been listed after a long campaign. Sadly for Birmingham’s architectural heritage, the developers of ‘Paradise’ still seem to live in a bygone era”.

Your vision of Paradise: office, retail and hotel space . . . ?

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james mckay ecocentre

In February, the Post reported environmentalists’ appreciation of an announcement by the city’s Green Commission, chaired by Councillor James McKay, cabinet member for a Green, Safe and Smart City. This reinforced an existing pledge to cut the city carbon emissions by 60% by 2027, its carbon roadmap outlining a range of measures and policies, which include:

  • improving public transport
  • retrofitting insulation to homes and businesses.
  • launching its own energy company
  • and cutting its own fuel bill by 50% by 2018..

BFOEBirmingham Friends of the Earth look forward to the implementation of the proposals which would reduce carbon emissions; an emphasis on ‘active transport’ – walking and cycling – would cut Birmingham’s traffic levels and reduce harmful levels of air pollution.

BFOE’s Julien Pritchard highlighted the EU’s legal action against the government for its failure to cut nitrogen dioxide levels in Birmingham and fifteen other cities across the UK: “If the EU is successful, it could result in the UK being fined, fines which the UK government could pass on to Birmingham City Council”. Read on here.

His colleague, Robert Pass (BFOE Let’s Get Moving campaign) said: “We’re asking the council to keep up the momentum of last summer, by continuing to lobby for funding to improve the city’s cycle network. Continued and sustained investment in active transport would give people a genuine choice to walk or cycle for those 25% of Birmingham’s car journeys which are under two miles”.

Last year BFOE listed some effects of air pollution:

  • children growing up in areas of high air pollution can develop lungs which have almost 20% less capacity than healthy lungs;
  • up to 30% of all new asthma cases may be caused by living next to busy roads;
  • exposure can cause people to die an average of 11.5 years early; DoH attributes more than 6% of adult deaths in Birmingham to current levels of air pollution;
  • costs in health care in Birmingham alone are thought to be £182 million a year.

birmingham cycle revolution council logoThey look forward to the realisation of council plans to improve 95-kilometres of existing route, add 115-kilometres of new routes, provide popular routes into the city centre, introduce a 20mph limit in residential areas to make cycling to local schools, shops and jobs safer, upgrade towpaths on canals, develop new cycling “green routes” through parks and green areas, provide secure cycle parking hubs and develop cycle loan and hire schemes to make it easier for people to get started.

tyseley air monitoring stationIt would be helpful if Government does not follow up a proposal to close 600 air monitoring stations (Tyseley right) particularly in London, which – the Express and Star reports – has the ten most polluted neighbourhoods. Outside the capital Sandwell and Leicester are joint fifth, Walsall eighth and Birmingham in tenth place, equal with Nottingham. All have levels significantly above World Health Organisation guidelines.

CIRAS reports concerns raised about the air quality during the station refurbishment work at Birmingham New Street, scheduled to continue until 2015. The work is being carried out in a fully operational station environment and activities such as sanding are making the air dusty, with the potential to cause respiratory related illnesses for the staff who work there.

Has construction work on tramlines in the city centre adversely affected air quality – and will office workers in the neighbourhood suffer if the Madin Library is demolished?

The second compelling reason is the need to redirect energy and funding to enable unemployed people in the city to thrive – after being neglected for at least 40 years as successive councils have demolished fine buildings in the city centre and rebuilt in their own image, plundering the education budget to pay for grandiose buildings.

Broadcaster Ed Doolan said on W.M.Radio, some years ago, that he was expecting visitors from abroad and was really looking forward to showing them around – not Ladywood, Highgate or Nechells – but Broad Street and the redeveloped canal frontage. The next time he came on air he was furious and disgusted because a lot of rubbish and graffiti was marring the area.

Was this the unarticulated reaction of the dispossessed young to this neglect?

Birmingham has a larger number of unemployed people than any of the eight “core cities” of England, including Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Bristol, Nottingham, Sheffield and Newcastle. The Post reported earlier this year that 51,000 people are claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance in the city and we add that there are other unemployed people who are not. The Mail reports that government figures show that 123,570 people are actually claiming benefits connected with being out of work in Birmingham.

Michael Ward, president of Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, recommends:

  • government to encourage banks to lend to industry;
  • business to recruit apprentices;
  • jettison raising of the retirement age to leave opportunities for young people. 

He added; “We need to help our young people set up their own businesses and generate sustained growth and jobs rather than languishing on benefits.” 

Birmingham council and Argent (the developer of Brindley Place) own large parts of Paradise Circus, and signed a two year exclusivity agreement in February 2009 “to prepare the way for the potential redevelopment” of the site. Read more here.

In July 2011, the Birmingham Post reported that the city’s debts had doubled as a result of projects such as the Houben library and Birmingham Gateway. No other major English city has higher per capita borrowing.

The Paradise project – supported by the city council as a major landowner – can borrow against the future business rates to fund this infrastructure investment.

Alternatively, the council could downscale this project, retain the Madin World Monument and invest to meet the needs of the city’s people.