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Birmingham library plans revealed as Rogers officially dropped

Funding is now being sought for a replacement for Richard Rogers' 'notoriously expensive' Birmingham library scheme.

The city council revealed its plans earlier this week for a split-site scheme, to follow on from plans by Rogers, which were scrapped earlier this year after their projected costs soared to as high as £300 million. The alarm bell over costs first sounded last autumn (AJ 09.09.05).

New £147.4 million proposals feature a lending library in a purpose-built building in the city centre and the city archives and reference section in an extension to Millennium Point in the Eastside development area.

A council spokesperson confirmed that the appointment of architects to carry out the refurbishment and extension is dependent on a £55 million PFI funding package currently being considered by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. No date for their decision has yet been finalised.

The DCMS announced in November 2004 a bidding round for £130 million of PFI funds available for library projects nationally.

The split-site scheme is the council's preferred option of three choices to house new library facilities. The council claims that 'a new contemporary building in Centenary Square [in the city centre] plus new high-quality facilities at Eastside would enable modern library standards to be met.'

The other options identified by the council in February were a complete new building at Rogers' Eastside site - which would cost £179.5 million - or a complete refurbishment of existing library facilities at Paradise Circus - £124.5 million.

A final option was the £152.4 million refurbishment of the Grade II-listed Baskerville House but this building was deemed inappropriate for modern library use.

by Rob Sharp

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