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New University of Birmingham science building approved

By Mark Cardwell | Birmingham | Education | Published:

The University of Birmingham is set to get a new building for chemistry and environmental science research after councillors approved plans.

Proposed aerial view of the Molecular Science Phase 1 building from the south east corner (Image: University of Birmingham, Associated Architects)

The university put forward an application for phase one of its Molecular Science project on the site of the now-demolished Munrow Sports Centre at its Edgbaston campus.

Councillors on the city council’s planning committee voted unanimously to approve the plans for the 12,790 square metre building, which will accommodate 500 to 600 people.

It is set to include specialist labs for areas such as nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), mass spectrometry and chromatography as well as teaching spaces and offices.

Councillor Gareth Moore and Councillor Lou Robson echoed a concern about car parking raised by Councillor Deirdre Alden, which was listed in the report by planning officers.

The report states 407 of the 677 spaces currently at the site would be removed, but spaces lost at the site would be relocated into an approved multi-storey car park at Vincent Drive and Pritchatts Road.

Illustration to show the University of Birmingham\'s Molecular Science Phase 1 plans next to potential further developments (Image: University of Birmingham, Associated Architects)

Councillor Moore said: “I appreciate there are plans in relation to the parking issues at the university but I don’t think reducing the number of car parking spaces is the answer.

“I do think the university has a duty to find ways to maximise the offering we provide.

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“Considering all the applications we have considered, this is actually a net reduction with the loss of this temporary site.

“I am concerned we are not going in the right direction on this and it’s going to cause problems for the future.”

Councillor Robson added: “Another application where any problems around it will relate to parking.

“We all had a site visit to that area when we were looking at a previous application and we have seen the traffic.

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“That would always be a concern for people in the area and people who have to drive around it for the hospital and so on.”

A council planning officer said the issue of car parking at the university is part of a “wider strategy, discussion and debate”.

They added “it is not envisaged there is going to be a significant increase in demand” for parking in respect of new staff in the area.

Car parking at the site currently has only been used since the demolition of the sports centre “rather than it being a dedicated car park”.

Mark Cardwell

By Mark Cardwell
Reporter - @mlrcardwell

Local Democracy Reporter covering Birmingham.

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