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Labour continues Brum library row with vow to bring back Rogers

Labour councillors at Birmingham City Council have proposed bringing back Richard Rogers Partnership's (RRP's) plans for its controversial Birmingham Eastside Library.

Deputy Labour group leader Ian Ward has hit out at a recently unveiled idea to split the library project into two separate facilities and has proposed reviving the RRP scheme if his party is in power next year.

Ward told the AJ: 'The current proposal is a dreadful idea. It will cost us much more in running costs across two buildings.'

The local politician went on to claim that the '60 per cent of library users who use more than one service at a time' may face a significant journey to do the same after proposed alterations.

Ward continued: 'There will also be difficulty in deciding what goes where. Is Shakespeare going in the reference section or in the archives?'

Ward put the cost of the Rogers scheme at £179 million - only £32 million more than the current split-library proposals.

Much speculation has ensued regarding the library's eventual cost in the past year.

In September 2004, Conservative councillors claimed that the scheme, which was originally estimated at £150 million, could hit the £300 million mark as a result of 'inflation and unexpected costs' (AJ 09.09.04).

RRP has since hit back by stating that these figures were 'wildly inaccurate'.

The practice claims that in early 2004 the cost of the project was estimated by independent quantity surveyors at £130 million, inclusive of fit-out, fees and inflation.

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 (AJ 20.07.05).

by Rob Sharp

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