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Next phase of Paradise Birmingham threatened by £50m funding shortfall

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The construction of buildings by Ian Springford Architects and Glenn Howells Architects for the massive Paradise Birmingham scheme is in the balance after developers admitted they had overspent on phase one and needed to find almost £50 million to unlock phase two

The Birmingham Paradise Joint Venture – led by Argent and Hermes – has formally asked the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership for £49.5 million for infrastructure, demolition and public realm work on the phased overhaul of the city centre.

A timeline published as part of a presentation to Birmingham City Council’s Audit Committee last month showed that work on Glenn Howells’ One Centenary Way should begin this year, with Ian Springford Architects’ 4-star hotel at One Ratcliff Square following afterwards.

But according to the presentation, ‘almost all’ the budget allocated for enabling works for phases one and two has already been spent on phase one alone. This has led to the plea to the local enterprise partnership (LEP).

Birmingham City councillor Suzanne Webb told the audit committee that Paradise Birmingham was ‘a considerable financial mess and risk to our city’.

She added: ‘This is not a project with scope changes; it is a completely mis-scoped project. It is not okay to have an overspend … alarm bells should have been ringing.’

The money requested from the LEP includes the cost of buying the existing Copthorne Hotel on the site, an outstanding sum incurred due to the liquidation of main contractor Carillion – which was replaced by Bam Construct – and various enabling works.

A spokesperson for Paradise Birmingham said: ‘The scope of works for Paradise phase one increased as a result of an escalation in the off-site infrastructure works required, which were largely outside of the ownership of the Paradise Birmingham Joint Venture. This was coupled with the liquidation of Carillion and significant construction inflation, which resulted in an additional £29 million in funding for phase one.

‘As a partner in the Paradise Birmingham Joint Venture, Birmingham City Council is seeking Enterprise Zone funding from the local enterprise partnership of £50 million to facilitate phase two of public realm, demolition and infrastructure work required for Paradise. This includes the compulsory purchase order of the Copthorne Hotel. Our goal is to create a space which provides long-term benefits and a legacy for the people of Birmingham.’

The LEP – led by a board of nine business bosses, seven council figures, two people from higher or further education and a representative of the under-30 population – said it was considering ‘a request for further investment in the project’.

It is understood that Hermes will fund the main construction of the 26,000m2 One Centenary Way office building, which will include ground-floor retail space. Copthorne will pay for the new 250-room hotel -– set to include a sky bar – once its existing building has been bought.

Glenn Howells Architects and Ian Springford Architects have been contacted for comment.

Birmingham City Council in 2015 approved plans from Eric Parry Architects and Glenn Howells for One and Two Chamberlain Square respectively under phase one of the Paradise Circus scheme, as it was then known.

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