Councillors back restoration plans for Birmingham's Methodist Central Hall
Councillors have given the thumb's-up to ambitious plans that will see Birmingham's historic Methodist Central Hall converted into a hotel complex.
The city council's planning committee voted unanimously to approve the £35 million plans from developer Ciel Capital and architects ICA to restore and convert the Grade II* listed building.
Birmingham City Council leader, Councillor Ian Ward, said: "This exciting development will give the beautiful building a new lease of life. Big things are happening in Birmingham at the moment and the new Central Hall is a spectacular mixture of the old and the new. The project will also create jobs and training opportunities for the people of this city."
The proposals will see the building restored and renovated to provide a 147-room hotel and 75-room apart-hotel units, plus new units on the ground floor for food, beverage and retail uses.
The plans also include a rooftop bar, live music venue and meeting space. The project team anticipates breaking ground as soon as this summer, with a target date of completion in 2020.
The development will also open up public access to the Central Hall by creating a new Gastro Hall, complete with a show kitchen. The improvements will involve the careful restoration of the central organ which has suffered damage over time, and will be showcased in a mezzanine bar overlooking the Hall.
The Grade II* listed Edwardian red brick and terracotta building was designed by Birmingham architects Ewan Harper and James A Harper. The Methodist Church gave up the hall in 1991and it was converted to the Q nightclub but in recent years the building has fallen into a state of disrepair and currently lies empty. It is listed on Historic England’s ‘Heritage at Risk’ register and is in need of substantial investment and restoration to secure a viable long-term future for the building.
Previous plans to convert the building to apartments and offices had come to nothing.
The hotel will be operated by Dream Hotel Group which manages prestigious hotels and resorts worldwide. The “Stow-Away” branded apart-hotel will be operated by BridgeStreet Global Hospitality. Across all uses the development is expected to generate around 100 new jobs, as well as contributing towards an increase in footfall for local businesses and new food, beverage and retail destinations for local people.
Jason Wischhoff, vice president for development in Europe & Africa for Dream Hotel Group, said: "We are delighted that the plans for the former Methodist Central Hall have been approved. This step marks Dream Hotel Group's first entrance into the European market, building off our success in the United States, South East Asia and across the globe. It's an exciting time in Birmingham, with preparations for the 2022 Commonwealth Games underway, and once complete, the new hotel will add another jewel to the City's crown."
Vedrana Bilanovic Riley, chief executive of Ciel Capital, added: “We are delighted to have received planning permission for our plans for the former Methodist Central Hall. The project team has been working hard over the past few months to ensure that our plans deliver a sensitive restoration of the iconic building, and we look forward to getting started.”