Murdoch and Pitman Buildings, at 153-156 Corporation Street, will transform its use, currently compromised by offices and shops, into an apartment hotel complete with 156 bedrooms plus a restaurant, bar, gym, laundry and meeting rooms.
The buildings, first erected between 1896-9, were originally occupied by Dean’s Furniture Manufactory and Pitman’s vegetarian restaurant.
Two takeaways are currently located on the ground floor of the building, but the rest of the floor space is still vacant. It has previously been used as a legal office.
The proposed renovations of the building include new shop fronts and front doors as well as repairs to the original terracotta sculpture, wooden frames, masonry and roofs. Modern office decor will be removed to be replaced with original details such as chimney pieces, cornices and doors.
Interior changes will also be repaired, such as ‘dry advice’ to keep 28 bedrooms in the building. The other 128 bedrooms will be built in the new block.
No direct objections have been raised by West Midlands Police or West Midlands Fire & Rescue Service, although both had conditions for adequate CCTV, lighting and gates to complement each other.
The Victorian Society supported the plans to put the building back into use, but noted that the backing, which they described as ‘terracotta baguettes’, was inappropriate for the area, adding that the extension could “dominate” the listed building.
A complaint was raised by the HM Courts and Tribunals Service, which occupies the nearby Crown and Magistrates’ Courts, about the potential for interrupting the Crown’s hearings – a criminal act.
Councilman Gareth Moore said he was “torn” over the application. He said: “I am devastated by this application because, first of all, I welcome the use of this building and its need to be re-used. I understand that something needs to be done at the back of the building.
“I’m really unhappy with what they’ve presented. The height I was initially worried about, but the CGI looks awful. It looks like it’s meant for terracotta cladding, but it dominates the whole building. It’s really disappointing. If we had something better designed, it would take advantage of the listed building in front and the others in the area. ”
Councilor Julie Johnson-White added: “In buildings like this, the front page should, in my opinion, have the same level of care and attention as the proposals here.
“I’m a bit broken, as my colleague said. But when I read it all about other comments made in the report, including from Historic England, I leave it at that. “
Councilor Dominic Standford added: “I think it’s very ugly. I do not think it’s in line with the heritage assets we already have.”
The plan application was approved. Out of 13, 10 were in favor, two against and one abstained. All city council members agreed on the listed building permit.