First building at Paradise tops out

The first building of the £700 million Paradise development in Birmingham has topped out, almost two years to the day from when the initial demolition of the site began.

Just days after PwC announced plans to take all of the commercial office space, PwC Midlands Regional Chair, Matthew Hammond, led the topping out ceremony of One Chamberlain Square by officially finishing off the last section of concrete on the eighth floor. He was joined by representatives from funders Hermes Investment Management and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), development manager Argent, construction contractor Carillion, Birmingham City Council and West Midlands Mayor Andy Street, together with the wider project team.

Designed by Eric Parry Architects, the eight storey, 172,000 sq ft building overlooks Chamberlain Square, one of the most vibrant and well-known locations in the city, and sits across from Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and the Town Hall. The building has been fully let to leading professional services firm PwC. As well as relocating its existing 1,400-strong Birmingham team from Cornwall Court in summer 2019, the building has the potential to accommodate an additional 1,000 people as PwC grows across the Midlands.

Leader of Birmingham City Council, Cllr Ian Ward, said: “Paradise is another example of Birmingham delivering on its growth, skills and jobs agenda. This exceptional development perfectly reflects the confidence and ambition of the city as a leading business destination with an international reputation for quality and innovation.

“The scheme also reflects the very best of a successful public/private partnership, bringing to life the Big City Plan and delivering growth in the Birmingham City Centre Enterprise Zone. The pace at which Paradise is moving forward and the quality of the architecture being brought to life at the very heart of this city is tremendously exciting.

“The scheme is recognised as one of the most important commercial developments in the UK outside London and in just two years we have seen connectivity across the city centre open up, the roads realigned and now, the buildings making a very visible impact on the skyline.”

Matthew Hammond, Midlands Regional Chair at PwC, said: “Our team is excited and eager to experience PwC’s new home in the heart of Birmingham, the Midlands and the country. With its high quality space and central location in the city’s newest and foremost commercial development, One Chamberlain Square represents a blueprint for our larger regional office model, with a tech-enabled, flexible environment that provides an exceptional visitor experience for our clients and a great working environment for our people. We’re looking forward to continue working closely with the Argent team to deliver this innovative landmark building.”

One Chamberlain Square features an elegant, curved external structure, effectively using a variety of materials to complement the neighbouring civic architecture. As well as plans for top quality restaurant and retail uses on the ground floor of the building, the large roof terrace on the sixth floor offers spectacular views across the city.

Chris Taylor, Head of Private Markets at Hermes Investment Management, said:

“The topping out of the first building to be completed at Paradise marks a significant step in the delivery of the scheme, which is transforming Birmingham city centre into a leading and competitive international city. We have seen strong momentum at the development, having recently announced that PwC will be taking the entirety of the commercial office space at One Chamberlain Square to accommodate the firm’s continued growth.

“We remain committed to investing in regeneration and placemaking to create places where people want to work, live and socialise, while also attracting and retaining talent in the regions.”

Rob Groves, Regional Director at Argent, said: “This is a big moment for both Paradise and Birmingham. We have achieved so many milestones over the past 10 years, but this one feels the most significant and reflects the huge momentum built on this vastly significant scheme.

“Following the fantastic recent news that PwC has now committed to all of the office space in One Chamberlain Square, we are looking forward to continuing the collaborative approach with PwC to deliver the best space to work. From this point forward, the scheme will really start to come to life as we count down to the official handover of the building to PwC in spring 2019.”

Demolition on the site began on 14 December 2015 and now, two years on, the physical frame of the first of up to ten new buildings has reached its highest point. More than half a million hours and a team of over 120 construction workers have helped deliver the building to this point. Work will now focus on making the structure watertight before the internal works commence. A total of 1,140 floor to ceiling window panels will be installed in the building while 12,110 cubic metres of concrete has gone into the frame since construction began in summer 2016.

Simon Dingle, Operations Director at Carillion, said: “One Chamberlain Square represents the very latest in design and delivery implementation and we’re proud to have reached this construction milestone. The overall Paradise scheme is a very complex project in a city centre environment which creates significant location and engineering challenges. Working with Argent and the full design team, we are now ready to move onto the next phase of delivery as we start the internal construction phase and fit out.”

Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, said: “It is hard to state just how important this development is to the ongoing economic success of Birmingham and the West Midlands. Visitors and people who work in Birmingham have been very patient with the huge building site in the middle of the city. Now, I hope, they can see the progress being made on creating a place which will effectively link all parts of the city together. It will be worth the wait.

“The news earlier this month that PwC has now taken the whole building we are topping out today and will eventually house up to 2,300 staff here is a huge vote of confidence, not just in the work of all of the partners involved in Paradise but also in the upbeat attitude of our commercial sector.”

At 1.8 million square feet, Paradise will deliver up to ten new flagship buildings, offering offices, shops, bars, cafés, restaurants and a four star hotel across 17 acres. Demolition of the former Birmingham Conservatoire and Fletcher’s Walk is now underway to allow for phase two of the scheme to progress.

The Paradise redevelopment is being brought forward through Paradise Circus Limited Partnership (PCLP), a private-public joint venture with Birmingham City Council. The private sector funding is being managed by Hermes Investment Management which has partnered with CPPIB on the first phase of the development. Argent is the development manager.

A website showcasing the vision for Paradise, in addition to a live time-lapse camera, can be viewed at www.paradisebirmingham.co.uk.

Cold weather provision for rough sleepers in Birmingham

Cllr Sharon Thompson, Birmingham City Council’s ambassador for addressing rough sleeping and homelessness, outlines the measures in place to support rough sleepers in the freezing cold weather.

Since the end of November our cold weather provision has been in place and will remain in place until the weather improves.

We also have a Severe Weather Emergency Provision (SWEP) protocol, which is initiated in Birmingham whenever there is a yellow weather warning in place, or whenever temperatures have a real feel of zero degrees or below. The criteria for initiating the provision in Birmingham go beyond the Homeless Link guidance, as we base our activities on actual temperatures.

SWEP opens up rest rooms across our supported hostels.  It is particularly aimed at the most hard to reach rough sleepers to prevent them from being out in the most severe weather.  It provides a hot meal and breakfast and an opportunity to try and engage with those accessing the provision.

Access to SWEP is co-ordinated by Midland Heart, who deliver our commissioned outreach service.  This service is known as HOST (Homeless Outreach Service Team).

The SWEP can be accessed in the following ways:

1. Via the HOST – anyone can refer individuals to this service by:

  • Phone 07483 981912
  • Website: www.streetlink.org.uk .You can use this website to send an alert to HOST about a rough sleeper.  The first time you use this website you will need to create an account.  This takes approximately 30 seconds and it is easy to use. 

2. Via Salvation Army – this service operates as an out of hours service for HOST.  It is only to be used outside of the core hours for HOST listed above.  Anyone can refer individuals to this service by phoning 0121 236 6554.  Please note that the Salvation Army operate a limited service and will signpost individuals to accommodation rather than outreach.  They will base their decision on accommodation based on current availability; location of the rough sleeper and their known risk factors.  This may involve referring them to Birmingham City Council Temporary Accommodation.

3. Via SIFA Fireside, 48 Alcock Street, Birmingham, B9 4DY – this is accessed by individuals by attending the centre and during its opening hours.

4. Via attending at the hostel – individuals can attend the accommodation providers commissioned by Birmingham City Council and request accommodation.  However, this may be subject to spaces still being available and rough sleepers may be sent to alternative providers, if already full.

In addition to the above, there are a number of voluntary providers who deliver overnight shelter provision, for example, As Suffa and the Church Night Shelter.  Midland Heart will link in with them as appropriate.

There will also be an annual Christmas Shelter, which will be open from 23rd -27th December run from St George’s Hub, Great Hampton Row.

True grit: Thank you to everyone who kept Birmingham moving in the snow

wm ambulance snow

Just a quick note from me to say a big thank you to the many people who worked so hard over the last 36 hours to keep Birmingham moving through the snow.

Our gritting crews and highways colleagues worked around the clock throughout the weekend in very testing circumstances. The snow fell throughout Sunday, making gritting and ploughing a never-ending task, but they just got on with the job and will continue to do so throughout the winter.

Thanks must also go to the emergency services who were on hand, keeping us safe and providing reassurance. Police, ambulance and fire crews did what they always do – they got on with the job.

At one stage on Sunday, West Midlands Ambulance Service (@OFFICIALWMAS) tweeted: We’re out because we have to be.

Well that may be the case but the efforts of staff who battled through the snow to answer calls were still very much appreciated.

As were the efforts of NHS workers throughout the city. I know the vast majority of health professionals made it into work to continue providing essential care.

And staying with the health theme, thank you to everyone who answered an urgent appeal from Heartlands, Good Hope and Solihull Hospitals for locals with 4x4s to help transport clinical staff during adverse weather.

I’d also like to thank carers and social care staff who provided help and reassurance to Birmingham’s more vulnerable people.

Thank you if you found time to check on a vulnerable or elderly neighbours and relatives. Whether you cleared a path or driveway, offered to go shopping for a neighbour or simply called to say hello, I’m sure your actions made a difference.

The many partners tackling rough sleeping in Birmingham also stepped-up. Cold weather provision was in operation and the many individuals and organisations who help in this area did sterling work throughout the weekend.

Finally, thanks to our media partners – both mainstream media and bloggers – for keeping citizens informed, sharing updates and helping to spread the safety message. This is a city of over a million people and we must work together to ensure everyone has up to date information.

There may be no snow forecast over the next few days but temperatures overnight will be extremely cold, so thank you in advance to everyone who keeps Birmingham moving.

And, if you’re out and about, please take extra care.