Planning approval granted for former Curzon Street station

The proposed redevelopment of Birmingham’s historic Curzon Street station took a giant leap forward as Birmingham City Council’s planning committee have given the green light to development plans submitted by HS2 Ltd.

Just two years ago any thoughts of bringing the Grade I listed building back to life were simply a pipedream, but thanks to the passion and enthusiasm shown by partners, the historic building is now pitched to be at the forefront of the impressive Eastside regeneration programme.

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Mike Lyons, HS2’s Programme Director, said:

“The arrival of HS2 is driving growth and regeneration right across the Midlands and it’s fitting that we are playing a leading role in restoring the oldest railway terminus in the world whilst simultaneously revolutionising rail travel for future generations on the very same spot.

“Redeveloping the former Curzon Street station building was never part of HS2’s remit, but we committed to working with Historic England, Birmingham City University and Birmingham City Council to try and make it happen.”

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Under plans approved today, HS2 Ltd now has consent to proceed with turning the building, which has lain empty for over a decade, into a visitor centre and education hub which will be shared by Historic England, Birmingham City University and HS2 Ltd. Ownership of the building will be retained by Birmingham City Council.

Cllr John Clancy, leader of Birmingham City Council, said:

“The redevelopment of Curzon Street station will link Birmingham’s illustrious past with its bright future. This iconic building was once a focal point for the UK rail network and now it will be at the very heart of HS2.

“It’s clear that the arrival of HS2 will be about so much more than fast trains to and from London. This is a once in a generation opportunity to continue Birmingham’s transformation and the rebirth of Curzon Street station will embody that transformation.”

The development proposals will see HS2 Ltd take up space on the ground floor of the four-storey building where it plans to open a visitor centre and community hub, showcasing progress with construction of the new high-speed route between London Euston and Birmingham Curzon Street.

Historic England plans to move its West Midlands team to the second floor, which will provide a new regional office for around 30 staff.

Veryan Heal, Historic England’s Planning Director, said:

“I first saw this wonderful building from the train when I came to Birmingham to start my new job over three years ago. It truly inspired me and I have been determined to find a future for it and take it off the Heritage at Risk Register ever since.

“Curzon Street Station was at the cutting edge of railway technology in the 1830s and it will be playing a cutting edge role again – at the centre of a new railway fit for the twenty-first century. This amazing building was the world’s first mainline passenger railway connected to London and today it still represents the civic pride and ambition of the city of Birmingham.”

Finally, Birmingham City University plans to use the first floor for their new STEAMHouse project which aims to promote growth and job creation by forming clusters of businesses, academics, artists and local communities, similar to that seen in London’s Shoreditch and Kings Cross. Unlike the hugely successful Tech City in Shoreditch, however, STEAMHouse will focus on how the creative arts – rather than science and technology alone – can lead the way in solving the problems facing small businesses.

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Professor Julian Beer, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Birmingham City University, said:

“This marks a major step forward in our collective bid to revitalise this historic piece of architecture in a part of our city that has been transformed in recent years.

“Being able to provide businesses, artists and academics with such an iconic place to hold events, workshops and STEAMhouse challenges, right next to our campus is extremely exciting and this news brings it all a step closer.

“This decision means all of us involved can now press ahead with getting the necessary wheels in motion to move us on to the next phase of this process.”

A number of milestones and governance arrangements, including the signing of a lease agreement between Birmingham City Council and HS2 Ltd and the approval of the council’s full Cabinet Board, await completion before development works can commence.

It is anticipated that design works will start later this month, ahead of on-site refurbishment beginning in November 2017. The target date for completion of the programme is summer 2018, which will pave the way for work to start on HS2’s new seven platform station which will sit alongside the Grade I listed building.