Murdoch and Pitman Buildings, at 153-156 Corporation Street, will change its usage, currently compromised of offices and shops, into an aparthotel complete with 156 bedrooms plus a restaurant, bar, gym, laundrette and meeting rooms.
The buildings, built between 1896 and 1899, were initially occupied by Dean’s Furniture Manufactory and Pitman’s vegetarian restaurant.
Two takeaways currently occupy the ground floor of the building, but the remainder of the floorspace remains vacant. It was previously used as a legal office.
The proposed renovations to the building include new shop fronts and entrance doors, and repairs made to the original terracotta sculpture, timber wood frames, brickwork and roofs. Modern office fittings will be removed to be replaced with original features such as chimney-pieces, cornices and doors.
Internal alterations will also be repaired, such as ‘dry rot’ to keep 28 bedrooms in the building. The other 128 bedrooms will be built within the new block.
No outright objections have been raised been West Midlands Police or West Midlands Fire & Rescue Service, although both had conditions for appropriate CCTV, lighting and gates to complement each other.
The Victorian Society supported the plans to bring the building back to use, but noted the rear cladding, which it described as ‘terracotta baguettes’ was inappropriate for the area, adding the extension may “dominate” the listed building.
One complaint was raised by HM Courts and Tribunals Service, which occupies the nearby crown and magistrates courts, over potential to disruption to crown hearings – a criminal offence.
Councillor Gareth Moore said: “I’m torn on this application because for one I re-welcome the use of this building and for it to be brought back into use. I appreciate there needs to be something done to the rear of the building.
“I’m really unhappy with what they have put forward. The height I was initially concerned about, but the CGI looks horrendous, It looks like it’s meant to be terracotta cladding but it dominates the whole building. It’s really disappointing. If we had something that was better designed, it would harness the listed building in front, and the others in the area.”
Councillor Julie Johnson-White added: “On buildings like this, the front bit in my opinion should have the same level of care and attention than the proposals here.
“I’m a bit torn as my colleague said. But reading the whole in respect of other comments that have put into the report, including from Historic England, I leave it.”
Councillor Dominic Standford added: "I think it’s very ugly. I don’t think it’s in keep with the heritage assets we already have."
The planning application was approved. Out of 13 counicllors, 10 were in favour, two against and there was one abstention. All councillors were unanimous regarding the listed build consent.