“Looking to the Future” – a free public meeting organised by the City Centre Neighbourhood Forum (CCNF) – was held on 28 February to update Residents on important infrastructure projects.
The Project Managers of the Centenary Square Re-design and the Paradise Forum redevelopment gave illustrated updates on progress to anyone who wanted to join the free public meeting on Saturday 28 February at the palatial Hyatt Regency Hotel in Broad Street.
The AGM of the CCNF
First off Chair of the City CCNF, John McDermot, conducted a brief AGM for the Forum and a report on the past year’s activities and achievements.
David Foster, CCNF Treasurer, gave a report on the year’s finances.
The current committee was formally re-elected and John extended an invitation to others to join.
The Paradise Development
Rob Groves, Senior Project Director with developers Argent, then described the current status of the design work for Paradise and the developing ideas for the first two buildings for which full planning approval will be sought during this year.
The project is being managed so that the traffic changes around the site, the main pedestrian route through the centre of the site and the major public spaces in Chamberlain Square will be completed first.
Demolition of the Central Library and associated buildings will be done in stages. The area where the old Library Theatre and Bebo/Woktastic restaurants stood will be cleared first so that the busy pedestrian route can be re-routed to that side of the building. This will allow the rest of the Library to be demolished safely, before the pedestrian route is returned to the current street line. Detailed timing is not yet resolved as it depends on coordination with the management of vehicle traffic.
The meeting was very concerned that the traffic diverted temporarily into unfamiliar streets (Cambridge Street and Holliday Street in particular) was not being monitored. Speeds were too high so posed a danger to local residents who could not cross the roads safely. The Forum committee members undertook to use every available means to confront the relevant authorities with these dangers. There was also challenge to the initial concepts of the first two buildings. Rob Groves took note of these comments and emphasised that these ideas were very provisional and there will be scope for later comment and consultation.
The need to provide plenty of green spaces was raised by the meeting and Rob commented that this would be part of the redevelopment process. Good management of the site, as with Brindleyplace, was also identified as a must for residents.
Centenary Square Re-design
Jim Wilson, the Project Delivery Manager for the Council, then described the project to redesign Centenary Square.
An outline budget of £8m has been allocated to allow for a major improvement to the appearance of the square, to respond to the major changes planned for much of the perimeter of the space.
An open competition, managed by the RIBA, attracted 185 responses from 31 different countries. An internal City Council assessment reduced this to 35 entries which were then assessed by a 6-person panel including local stakeholders (eg John McDermot). They short-listed five of these for further detailed development by their designers. Jim Wilson showed images of each of these. Some of the five proposals included attractive water features.
The chosen five finalists will present their final versions by early May. They will be displayed in the Library in the week 16 – 22 May 2015 for public view and comment. A final decision will take all the public comments into account and be made by early July. Construction work is expected to start in January 2017 and finish in summer 2018. This timing is designed both to coordinate with the Metro extension works to Centenary Square and also minimise the impact on Christmas attractions.
Questions from the meeting were focussed on the impact of through traffic on the Broad Street edge of the square and on the proposals for Arena Central.
The CCNF aim to host a second meeting in 2015 to hear from Centro about the Metro extension works and the impact on Centenary Square and from the Arena Central developers.