What can be done to save our heritage?

As expected this time last week, the DCMS have not listed Central Library. Meaning that the council have a window of half a decade in which to knock it down and replace it with soulless offices, chain cafes and thinly walled apartments. At least that’s what Brindleyplace (why no space!) mark two says to me.

Central Library — BRUTAL

This went against English Heritage advice:

“In offering the Government our expert advice, we examined all aspects of its architectural interest including: whether it fulfilled its brief; whether it was a particularly good example of a public library; how well it survives; how it compares to other listed buildings of a similar type; and how influential the building has been. In our view, these tests were met.”

Like the Rotunda before it, Central Library is a real building with real history and merit. Think of those buildings that have been senselessly destroyed before in the name of progress. We can’t let fashion spoil our history.

But what can we do? I’ve said before how it doesn’t need to be a library, and how clearing clutter from around it would improve the area immeasurably.

Is it a single issue we can rally around? Do we need a Save Central Library party — Mike Whitby is up for re-election to the council next year (2010), someone standing against him could prove disruptive — is that something we could do? Is it worth it? (EDIT: I’m not volunteering here, I don’t live in Harborne — where he’s a councillor for.)

If you’d like to see more of the debate, I’ve been collecting articles on delicious.

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  • kebablog

    You forgot to add 'empty offices' 'Chain pubs that keep changing chain as the rent is too high'

    I'll be sad once it's replaced by a bland soulless Brindley Place Mk2.

  • So they have 5 years to demolish it? Before they can do that though they will need to build the new library and get everything moved out of the old and into the new. Will the new library be built and installed in less than 5 years?

    I'm assuming they won't demolish it before a) they've got everything out and b) the new library is finished. Who can say?

  • it might be, I'm not sure — that in 5 years interested parties can apply again to have it listed if it's still there.

  • paulashton

    Is it possible for an individual or group of individuals to file a restraining order on future demolition and request listed status for the building? We think that may be an option.

    We walked through the building last weekend and were impressed by the new flooring and cleaning up of all the pseudo roman pillars, etc. I asked at the Library reception if there was a petition we could sign, but they cannot comment on such matters and suggested we check the internet.

  • Anonymous

    Technically he doesn’t live in Harborne either so it shouldn’t be a problem.nnCome to think of it he doesn’t live in Birmingham so you could play the local card.

  • Anonymous

    Technically he doesn’t live in Harborne either so it shouldn’t be a problem.nnCome to think of it he doesn’t live in Birmingham so you could play the local card.

  • Anonymous

    Technically he doesn’t live in Harborne either so it shouldn’t be a problem.nnCome to think of it he doesn’t live in Birmingham so you could play the local card.

  • I’d feel uncomfortable standing in an area that I didn’t live in, even rnif some don’t. ;)

  • I’d feel uncomfortable standing in an area that I didn’t live in, even rnif some don’t. ;)

  • I’d feel uncomfortable standing in an area that I didn’t live in, even rnif some don’t. ;)

  • Anonymous

    As a Brummie the existing Library is not part of my heritage. In fact it is a prime example of a previous round of development that ignored heritage – don’t forget that a fine existing building was destroyed to build the Ring Road and the ‘new’ Library – a car dominated policy that is now discredited. I’m all for new buildings and for modern design but the library is not only in many people’s opinion unattractive and unfit (and not designed) for purpose it is also derivative. See http://bit.ly/5sfjNP and http://bit.ly/63UZ2B

  • Anonymous

    As a Brummie the existing Library is not part of my heritage. In fact it is a prime example of a previous round of development that ignored heritage – don’t forget that a fine existing building was destroyed to build the Ring Road and the ‘new’ Library – a car dominated policy that is now discredited. I’m all for new buildings and for modern design but the library is not only in many people’s opinion unattractive and unfit (and not designed) for purpose it is also derivative. See http://bit.ly/5sfjNP and http://bit.ly/63UZ2B

  • Anonymous

    As a Brummie the existing Library is not part of my heritage. In fact it is a prime example of a previous round of development that ignored heritage – don’t forget that a fine existing building was destroyed to build the Ring Road and the ‘new’ Library – a car dominated policy that is now discredited. I’m all for new buildings and for modern design but the library is not only in many people’s opinion unattractive and unfit (and not designed) for purpose it is also derivative. See http://bit.ly/5sfjNP and http://bit.ly/63UZ2B

  • So because one part of your heritage was destroyed some more must be? It’s about not bending to whims for whatever is in vogue u2014u00a0never having seen the first library I can’t have any emotional attachment to it but I can see it was a fine building u2014 not destroying for commercial or idealogical gain, It’s a little to do with history, a little to do with care.

  • So because one part of your heritage was destroyed some more must be? It’s about not bending to whims for whatever is in vogue u2014u00a0never having seen the first library I can’t have any emotional attachment to it but I can see it was a fine building u2014 not destroying for commercial or idealogical gain, It’s a little to do with history, a little to do with care.

  • So because one part of your heritage was destroyed some more must be? It’s about not bending to whims for whatever is in vogue u2014u00a0never having seen the first library I can’t have any emotional attachment to it but I can see it was a fine building u2014 not destroying for commercial or idealogical gain, It’s a little to do with history, a little to do with care.

  • Anonymous

    No my point was that it isn’t a positive part of my heritage or for many in Brum. I don’t think it should be punished by demolition for replacing the previous building. But a building that was never successfully designed for it’s purpose and which it is hard to see what use it could be put too quite apart from it’s merits or demerits externally doesn’t seem to me worth saving. I do think that the way it creates a civic space with the TH and the Art Gallery/Council House is important and so agree with the comments about not having cheap retail or leisure in its place

  • Anonymous

    No my point was that it isn’t a positive part of my heritage or for many in Brum. I don’t think it should be punished by demolition for replacing the previous building. But a building that was never successfully designed for it’s purpose and which it is hard to see what use it could be put too quite apart from it’s merits or demerits externally doesn’t seem to me worth saving. I do think that the way it creates a civic space with the TH and the Art Gallery/Council House is important and so agree with the comments about not having cheap retail or leisure in its place

  • Anonymous

    No my point was that it isn’t a positive part of my heritage or for many in Brum. I don’t think it should be punished by demolition for replacing the previous building. But a building that was never successfully designed for it’s purpose and which it is hard to see what use it could be put too quite apart from it’s merits or demerits externally doesn’t seem to me worth saving. I do think that the way it creates a civic space with the TH and the Art Gallery/Council House is important and so agree with the comments about not having cheap retail or leisure in its place

  • Daz_Wright

    Technically he doesn't live in Harborne either so it shouldn't be a problem.

    Come to think of it he doesn't live in Birmingham so you could play the local card.

  • I'd feel uncomfortable standing in an area that I didn't live in, even
    if some don't. ;)

  • brianhomer

    As a Brummie the existing Library is not part of my heritage. In fact it is a prime example of a previous round of development that ignored heritage – don't forget that a fine existing building was destroyed to build the Ring Road and the 'new' Library – a car dominated policy that is now discredited. I'm all for new buildings and for modern design but the library is not only in many people's opinion unattractive and unfit (and not designed) for purpose it is also derivative. See http://bit.ly/5sfjNP and http://bit.ly/63UZ2B

  • So because one part of your heritage was destroyed some more must be?

  • brianhomer

    No my point was that it isn't a positive part of my heritage or for many in Brum. I don't think it should be punished by demolition for replacing the previous building. But a building that was never successfully designed for it's purpose and which it is hard to see what use it could be put too quite apart from it's merits or demerits externally doesn't seem to me worth saving. I do think that the way it creates a civic space with the TH and the Art Gallery/Council House is important and so agree with the comments about not having cheap retail or leisure in its place