Controversial plans to redevelop Birmingham Library have attracted further heavy criticism after the scheme failed to win crucial funding.
Labour councillor Ian Ward has damned new council proposals to house the library on two different sites as 'dead in the water' after Birmingham's request for £55 million was passed over during a process to allocate £130 million of new government PFI cash.
The new split-site plans replace an earlier scheme by Richard Rogers for a signature building at Birmingham Eastside, which were dropped earlier this year (AJ 20.07.05).
Crucially, according to Ward, schemes such as one backed by Worcestershire County Council, to house library facilities on a single site, have been given the crucial moneys to proceed.
'The amount of money which the council will now have to find to fund the split site option is prohibitively expensive,' explained Ward.
The councillor went on to criticise the council's decision to house the library's lending and reference section off the city's historic Centenary Square. This, he continued, meant that more-deprived areas would not benefit from a new facility's regeneration potential.
Birmingham City Council leader councillor Mike Whitby downplayed the impact of the funding snub. He said: 'We are very encouraged by the project. It is a subject that has caused more than a ripple of excitement in the city and we have always known that it is good for Birmingham'.
He continued: 'The new library will be an excellent facility for the people of Birmingham and given our importance as a university city we owe it to our young people to ensure that their educational and cultural provision is the very best.'by Rob Sharp