51-storey Birmingham PRS tower approved after airport agrees to increase flight heights

Plans for a 51-storey, 670-home tower in Birmingham city centre have been approved after Birmingham Airport agreed to increase the height at which planes circle in order to enable construction work.

Birmingham tower approved. Image by Court Collaboration
Birmingham tower approved. Image by Court Collaboration

Birmingham City Council last night approved the full application from developer Court Collaboration, which would see 667 private rented sector (PRS) homes built in two towers of 51 and 16 storeys.

The decision came despite the scheme, which the developer claims would be the tallest residential tower in the Midlands, proposing a level of affordable housing well below local requirements.

The site, on the corner of Jennens Road and James Watt Queensway, is occupied by a 1970s former university teaching building, the CEAC building and is near the proposed Curzon Street High Speed Two Station.

In addition to the homes, the planning application provides for a gym, yoga room and cinema room, as well as a rooftop dining and bar area.

The authority’s planning committee had deferred the application from its October meeting following concerns raised about design, affordable housing and the impact on the airport.

An officer’s report to last night’s committee said that "whilst Birmingham Airport raised no objection to the building height itself they raised concerns about the impact the construction cranes may have".

An assessment identified that the circling height for some categories of aircraft would need to be increased slightly to ensure that the cranes would not endanger safety, the report said.

"This increase has been agreed with Birmingham Airport and their air traffic controllers," it added.

The committee also agreed that the development will only provide 20 affordable units – three per cent of the total – well below the council’s policy requirement of 35 per cent on schemes of more than 15 homes.

However, the officer’s report agreed with an independent viability assessment that concluded the scheme would not be financially viable if a greater contribution was required.

The report said: "As a PRS scheme, low yields are expected over a much longer period of time when compared to build to sell schemes and this has significant impacts on a scheme's viability."

It added that a council conservation officer had considered the proposal and accepted it will lead to less than substantial harm to the significance of nearby heritage assets.

Anthony McCourt, CEO and founder of Court Collaboration, said: "We hope to be able to confirm a start on site date in the near future." He added that the "ambitious scheme" would involve "sustainable design and innovative construction".

In July, plans were submitted for a 1,300-home mixed-use development, including a 39-storey tower and up to 130,000 square metres of workspace, on a separate three-hectare site in central Birmingham.

Plans to replace the city’s 1970s-built NatWest Tower with a new 26-storey, 103-metre tower were approved in 2015.

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