LIBRARY DEATH KNELL BOOKED FOR MONDAY
The Stirrer understands that Culture Minister Margaret Hodge will visit Birmingham on Monday to announce that the city’s Central Library won’t be listed – allowing the City Council to send in the bulldozers to Paradise Square. A leading architectural historian branded Hodge a “philistine”.
There’s been no official confirmation of Hodge’s visit – nor her decision about the library – but smoke signals emanating from the Department of Culture Media and Sport suggest she has set her face against preserving John Madin’s 1973 Brutalist classic.
The Minister has even introduced a new criterion for listing modern buildings, demanding that in addition to any architectural merit, they should be “fit for purpose”.
Birmingham Council is already committed to building a new £193million Central Library in Centenary Square, and insist it isn’t reliant upon receipts from selling the land where the existing one stands – but the city’s leadership is so keen to redevelop the area that it’s already opened negotiations with Brindley Place developer Argent.
News of Hodge’s visit, and her apparent refusal to list the building, brought an angry response from architectural historian Andy Foster, author of the Pevsner guide to Birmingham, and chair of the Friends of the Central Library.
He said: “We were all expecting this. Margaret Hodge has deliberately created extra criteria for the purpose of refusing to list the building. She’s changed the rules mid-stream, so that it’s not just to do with architectural qualities and historical importance.”
But Foster warned: “This is not the end of the fight by any means. It’s just a shame the government appointed a philistine as a Minister”.
The planning application for the new library is due to be lodged this week in advance of a planning meeting next Thursday, but officials were coy when quizzed earlier this week about Hodge and the listing decision.
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