Chamberlain Square re-opens at Paradise
Birmingham, 29 March 2021 - One of Birmingham’s most significant public spaces, Chamberlain Square, has re-opened to the public as the final part of the first phase of the £700 million Paradise scheme at the heart of the city.
Following its closure in November 2015, the square has been transformed with new paving, steps and lighting. On hand to mark the occasion were Leader of Birmingham City Council, Cllr Ian Ward, Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership chair Tim Pile, Fund Director at Federated Hermes International, Chris Darroch, and Regional Director of Argent, Rob Groves.
The square has been completely updated. Sioban Coppinger’s 1993 bronze statue of Thomas Attwood, Birmingham Man, has been fully restored and returned to his position sitting on the steps close to the Town Hall.
The centrepiece of the square remains the 140 year old Chamberlain Memorial which has been fully cleaned and renovated with the fountain and its jets replaced. It continues to provide a fitting tribute to Joseph Chamberlain himself as well as providing a backdrop to the stunning classical and Victorian architecture of the Town Hall, Council House and Museum & Art Gallery.
Two modern commercial buildings, One Chamberlain Square and Two Chamberlain Square, totalling 350,000 sq ft of space, now face onto the square and form the commercial part of Phase One of Paradise.
Rob Groves, Regional Director with Argent, development managers of Paradise, said: ‘The re-opening of Chamberlain Square is a key milestone not just for the Paradise development, but for the city of Birmingham. After five years of construction and a year of lockdowns, we are now seeing the fruits of all the effort that has gone into Paradise in the shape of new occupiers in our first two commercial buildings making major investments in the city as well as new pedestrian access points across the city and through the public realm. The significance of Chamberlain Square is important not just for us, but for the city and also for the country as a whole because this is a high profile project that was successfully delivered during 2020, despite all the challenges. During last year we welcomed PwC to their largest UK regional office at One Chamberlain Square, made occupier announcements with Knights and Mazars joining DLA Piper at Two Chamberlain Square, and welcomed leisure operators like Dishoom. We also submitted a planning application for Octagon, a 49 storey residential tower, and started construction of our next commercial building, One Centenary Way. Finally, we also announced the winners of the architectural competition for our next commercial building, Three Chamberlain Square. It was a very busy year and we know 2021 is already seeing more of the same kind of activity having already announced Rosa’s Thai will be opening this year.’
Cllr Ian Ward, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said: ‘Paradise is fast becoming an essential part of our local and regional economy. With its 2 million square feet of development, new infrastructure improvements and new public realm like the revitalised Chamberlain Square, it is already making a difference to promoting jobs and skills for the city and will continue to do so in the years to come.’
Chris Darroch, Fund Director at Federated Hermes International, said: ‘Our commitment to Paradise has brought about a major new development for the city and its people with genuine mixed use buildings already playing their role in boosting the local economy and providing jobs and opportunities for the people of the West Midlands.’
Tim Pile, Chair of the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP), said: ‘The re-opening of Chamberlain Square along with the Paradise development will play a vital role in economic recovery for the region. GBSLEP’s investment of £139 million into Paradise has meant that infrastructure which once blocked off the square has been removed to create more space for businesses to relocate and for our people to come and enjoy. I see this area as the civic heartbeat of the city centre, surrounded by Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, the Town Hall and the Council House. Now the new Paradise development will breathe even more energy into this already magnificent square which will be welcoming people from all over the world when we host the Commonwealth Games next year.’
Chamberlain Square is one of the most historic corners of the city and has seen a lot of changes through the last hundred and eighty years from when it was first laid out at the junction between Edmund Street and Congreve Passage in the 1840s. In the intervening years the square has formed a backdrop to the Town Hall and the Council House as well as the former Mason College and the original Reference Library.
The new Chamberlain Square will, once more, be a natural meeting point in the very heart of the city. With its wide bleacher-style seating areas and natural amphitheatre shape, the square lends itself to being a centre for public events and performances. A programme of public events is currently being curated and Paradise looks forward to making further announcements on this later in the year.
At almost 2 million square feet, Paradise Birmingham is delivering up to ten new flagship buildings across a truly mixed use environment offering offices, shops, bars, cafes, restaurants, a high quality hotel and plans for a 49 storey residential tower, across 17 acres in the heart of the city.
The Paradise development 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 Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) on the first phase of the development. Argent is the development manager.
Paradise sits in the country’s largest city centre Enterprise Zone and has already benefited from investment by the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) in enabling and infrastructure works.
A website showcasing the vision for Paradise, in addition to a live time-lapse camera and all the latest news about the development, can be viewed at www.paradisebirmingham.co.uk
Background on Chamberlain Square
- Chamberlain Square is at the very heart of Birmingham and has been a public space since it was first laid out in 1840, following the opening of the Town Hall in 1834.
- In the Victorian era the square was home to Mason College (forerunner of the University of Birmingham) and the Reference Library (forerunner to the former Central Library and current Library of Birmingham).
- The Chamberlain Memorial (designed by John Henry Chamberlain – no relation) was revealed on 10 October 1880 to honour the life and public service of Joseph Chamberlain – ex Liberal MP and Mayor of the city.
- The 20 metre (66 feet) high memorial has always been the centrepiece of the square and is made from Portland stone. A public appeal in 1880 contributed £3,000 (£375,000 in today’s money) towards the total cost of the Gothic-style memorial.
- Venetian firm Salviatai Burke & Co created the mosaics on each face of the memorial.
- The new Chamberlain Square sees the Chamberlain memorial fully restored with new fountain jets and bowls and work was carried out earlier this year to protect and clean the original Portland stone.
- The new bleacher seating around the square can hold thousands of people and the natural amphitheatre effect lends itself to public performances and events.
- The new square covers an area of approximately one and a half acres.
- The statue of former Birmingham MP, reformer and human rights activist Thomas Attwood has also been reinstalled in the square, on the steps close to the Town Hall.
- Further pieces of the same installation including a crate (or soap box) and sheaves of paper that spell out aspects of Attwood’s political agenda, along with the words Reform, The Vote and Prosperity for all stencilled into the square’s southern steps. The statue was designed by sculptor Sioban Coppinger and the lettering designed by letterer Fiona Peever.
- Further statues due to be returned to Paradise include those of scientist Joseph Priestley and industrialist James Watt, both of whom overlooked the previous iteration of the square. These statues are being incorporated into the public realm as part of Phase Two of the development.
- Peter Marsh, Chamberlain’s biographer, writes: ‘Under his guidance Birmingham was known as the best-governed city in the industrial world. Although he had his critics, the thinking then was if you could carry Birmingham you could carry the country – the city had huge national prominence.’
- Other monuments to Chamberlain include the clocktower at the University of Birmingham (where Chamberlain was the first chancellor) – known as Old Joe – and once the tallest free-standing clocktower in the world.
- The plaque upon the Chamberlain memorial in Chamberlain Square reads:
- This memorial is erected in gratitude for public service given to this town by Joseph Chamberlain who was elected Town Councillor in November 1869, Mayor in November 1873, and resigned that office in June 1876 on being returned as one of the representatives of the Borough of Birmingham in Parliament. And during whose Mayoralty many great public works were notably advanced. And mainly by whose ability & devotion the Gas & Water Undertakings were acquired for the town to the great and lasting benefit of the inhabitants.
Federated Hermes International
Federated Hermes, Inc. is a leading global investment manager with $628.8 billion in assets under management as of June 30, 2020. Guided by our conviction that responsible investing is the best way to create wealth over the long term, our investment solutions span 162 equity, fixed-income, alternative/private markets, multi-asset and liquidity management strategies and a range of separately managed account strategies. Providing world-class active investment management and engagement services to more than 11,000 institutions and intermediaries, our clients include
corporations, government entities, insurance companies, foundations and endowments, banks and broker/dealers. Headquartered in Pittsburgh, Federated Hermes’ more than 1,900 employees include those in London, New York, Boston and several other offices worldwide. For more information, visit: FederatedHermes.com
Argent is one of the UK’s best respected property development companies. Argent developed and managed Brindleyplace which offers more than 1.1 million sq ft of office space, 30 restaurants, bars and cafés as well as leisure and recreational facilities. Brindleyplace is internationally recognised as an award winning benchmark for urban regeneration and has been responsible for leading the way in Birmingham’s continued transformation. Argent focuses on just a few, exceptional schemes at any one time, working with landowners and other partners. In addition to the eight million sq ft emerging at King’s Cross in London, Argent’s CV includes the rejuvenation of Piccadilly (One Piccadilly Gardens, Piccadilly Place, The Hub, The Hive) and One St Peter’s Square in Manchester; Brindleyplace and Paradise in Birmingham; the redevelopment of brownfield sites in the Thames Valley; and major commercial developments in the City of London. For further information, visit: www.argentllp.co.uk