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DCMS sparks Brum listing row

A dispute over the reasons behind the failed listing of a 1958 Modernist building has broken out in Birmingham.

Both the original architect of the city's Chamber of Commerce, John Madin, and the conservationists campaigning to save it are fuming at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport's (DCMS) decision to turn down listed status.

They have slammed the rationale behind the decision - that the building has seen too many changes since its completion - as 'complete nonsense'.

'We've been told that the building is not the same as when it was completed but that makes no sense at all, ' said local Twentieth Century Society casework committee member Eva Ling. 'I have been round the building with Madin and he says it's almost identical.' Madin, who was responsible for several of Birmingham city centre's major buildings, including most famously the now-threatened Central Library, was described by Pevsner as 'remarkably good on any standard'.

'This is one of the most infuriating decisions I have heard, ' Ling added. 'It seems to me that the powers that be are making excuses just because they don't like the building. That is not the way to go about deciding which buildings should be listed and which should not.' And Madin himself, who believes the Chamber of Commerce is his best building, agreed. 'This is a shocking decision, ' he told the AJ. 'There is no way they can argue that there have been too many changes made. When I had a look round, I was astonished by how little was different to when it was completed.

'For example, the boardroom still has the board table that I commissioned and the same chairs that were there when it opened.

And, most importantly, the mural by John Piper is intact and should be left where it is. It seems a real shame as this is a building of its time and soon there will not be many of them left, ' Madin added.

The Chamber of Commerce building - which won an RIBA Award in 1961 - is currently under threat from a proposal that would see it demolished and replaced by a much larger mixed-use scheme by Aedas.

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