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Apartment Wars Erupt In Birmingham As Skyscraper Policy Goes Slow

One Eastside, soaring into the Birmingham sky

Summer heat has frayed the mood in the already stressed Birmingham city-centre apartment scene, where the city’s tallest tower could lead to the biggest row.

Tensions in the Birmingham city centre apartment market have spilled out into the open, with LaSalle Investment Management launching legal action against a rival city centre scheme promoted by Court Collaboration.

The dispute comes as the completion of Birmingham’s long-awaited tall building policy review is delayed until next year.

The row, which will now be resolved in court, involves the 51-storey One Eastside build-to-rent apartment tower at James Watt Queensway. Two towers will contain 667 apartments, as proposed by Court Collaboration. The £160M scheme won planning permission in April.

LaSalle, which backs Nikal’s 603-unit Allegro BTR scheme on the Exchange Square site opposite, said Birmingham City Council did not consider heritage issues adequately when it granted consent. The 25-storey Allegro tower completed in December 2019.

Mrs Justice Lieven has granted permission for judicial review of the council approval of the One Eastside plans on five grounds including “the failure properly to consult Historic England, the failure correctly to understand and apply Historic England’s advice, the failure to apply the correct legal and policy tests on heritage issues and the failure to give adequate reasons,” chambers advising on the case said.

The claim, which impacts on a number of listed and historic buildings, has been designated by the judge as a significant planning case.

Tensions in the city's apartment scene have been exacerbated by dated policy on tall buildings in central Birmingham, which is now being reviewed as part of a new Birmingham Design Guide that will regulate tall buildings policy, and which will have the status of a supplementary planning document. 

The city council said last year that a new draft design guide will be available for consultation early in 2020, with a view to adopting the plan by the summer. The coronavirus pandemic has knocked that plan off course. Consultation opens in late September and will run until November.