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Shed KM's 'Lego' plans slammed

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Birmingham planners have thrown cold water on plans by Shed KM for a radical overhaul of the famous Fort Dunlop warehouse.

Councillors, meeting to discuss the design for a modern extension to the industrial landmark, condemned it for lacking respect.

Councillor Peter Douglas Osborn warned the committee at an 'issues meeting' last Thursday that the scheme would give Birmingham 'the reputation of being the home of Legoland'. Councillor Andrew Coulson called the scheme 'appalling' and councillor Mike Sharp said 'anybody driving on the M6 and seeing this will think we've gone barmy'.

Shed KM won a competition in 2000 to renovate the famous warehouse, which lies next to the M6 motorway on the approach to the city.

Plans to refurbish the existing building have already won the go-ahead, but the recent addition of a 95-bed hotel extension 'painted bright blue with windows like bobbles on Lego' had left councillors 'really rather shocked', Coulson told the AJ.'We are prepared to be quite forceful if we don't think the scheme is right, ' he added.

A spokeswoman for the council said it hoped the design team would reconsider the scheme in light of the councillors' comments. 'We will be meeting with the developer to discuss the way forward in response to members' concerns raised at the meeting, ' she said.

But project architect Hazel Rounding said she remained 'absolutely convinced [the current scheme] is the right solution'.

'We need to have a further discussion with them, ' Rounding said. 'I don't believe they have a full understanding of the scheme at this point.'

Rounding added that a refusal for the hotel extension - which is critical to the financial viability of the scheme - could jeopardise the entire project.

Urban Splash chairman Tom Bloxham said he believed the new hotel extension 'will make a dramatic intervention to the original building'.

'We are aware that some councillors have expressed reservations about the design and Urban Splash wants to make sure that we fully understand these, ' he added. 'We will work with the councillors and architects to hopefully produce a scheme that everyone is happy with.'

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