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Council U-turn gives green light to ShedKM's 'Legoland' plans

Birmingham City Council's planning committee has performed a major volte-face by giving consent to ShedKM's plans to redevelop the landmark Fort Dunlop warehouse.

Members of the committee supported the proposals - drawn up for Urban Splash - despite launching a blistering attack on the scheme just two months ago.

Last November, councillor Peter Douglas Osborn compared the scheme, which will attach a 95-bed hotel to the side of the refurbished warehouse, to 'Legoland' (AJ 20.11.03).

When the project is complete it will include shop and retail units, flexible workspace and a leisure centre. The hotel extension will feature a 50m electric-blue 'spine' with round portico windows.

At their first viewing of the hotel, committee members savaged the design, with one insisting that 'anyone driving along the M6 and seeing this will think we've gone barmy'.

However, just two months later committee members have given the project the green light.

Douglas Osborn - who voted in favour - admitted that the decision was something of a U-turn.

'As a councillor you may not like something but that is no reason to turn it down, ' he told the AJ. 'If you did that then almost nothing would get through.

'We went over the Legoland part of it and we were persuaded that if it is lit up at night it will look OK, ' he added.

But Development Control Committee chair Renee Spector insisted that the building's designs were popular. 'I am very pleased that we have been able to agree this innovative scheme for bringing a large brownfield site back into economic use, ' she said.

'The design is adventurous, but after Selfridges we expect nothing less for major landmark schemes, ' he added.

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