Revised plan promises landmark skyscraper for Birmingham

For plumbers and insulation fitters, the recent increases in the output of new homes have been good news, as this has generated more business. But much of it has also created technical challenges.

This is certainly true with tall buildings, as there are various technical challenges involved in ensuring water pressures are maintained throughout. This generally involves pumping water to a tank at the top, but good maintenance is also an issue. Such buildings also need plenty of insulation, not least on higher floors where the air temperature is lower, the urban heat trap effect diminished and the wind chill factors greater.

Skyscrapers are making up an increasing part of the apartment market in big cities at present. London is adding several, as might be expected, and not just in the already built-up heart of the capital or alongside the Thames; even Croydon has got in on the act with planning permission recently being granted for a tower that is taller than One Canada Square at Canary Wharf.

Manchester is another city that is reaching for the sky, but one developer based in the city has set its sights on a new tower in Birmingham instead.

Nikal is already heavily involved in the city through its Exchange Square project, which is being developed on the eastern side of the centre. Phase 1 is in progress, including a 27-storey tower, but Phase 2 could be even more impressive.

The initial plan for Phase 2 was for 223 apartments and planning permission is already in place for this, but Nikal has decided to be more ambitious. It now wants to raise the figure to 565 with a new landmark building. Its lower section will be only seven storeys high, but the main part will be a sleek tower of 46 storeys in height. While the exact scale of the building has not been stated, Nikal said it will be the tallest in Birmingham.

Plans are still being drawn up and no planning application has yet been made, but the project will feature a rooftop garden and lounge for residents.

The location of the tower overlooking the forthcoming HS2 hub at Curzon Street has been a key driver of the project that Nikal hopes will impress city planners, not least as a means of reasserting Birmingham's 'second city' credentials over Manchester.

Managing director Nick Payne explained: "Our thinking around the revised proposals for Phase 2 Exchange Square are inspired by a desire to produce a truly landmark building that will announce to those travelling by HS2 that they have arrived in 'Britain’s second city'.

"With our site lying adjacent to Birmingham Curzon HS2, it's the perfect opportunity to respond with a dramatic and architecturally stunning structure which will eclipse the tall buildings already being produced in other major cities such as Manchester."

Mr Payne said the skyline of Birmingham is "undergoing an exciting transformation" and this will certainly be true if some of the other proposed tall buildings get the go-ahead.

If the new tower Nikal wants to build is to be the tallest residential building in Birmingham it will have to exceed 440 ft, as that is the planned scale of 212 Broad Street, a 481-unit build-to-rent tower for which Moda Living submitted a planning application last month.

Although the skyline of Birmingham looks like an American-style skyscraper cluster from a distance, only three city centre structures reach the requisite 100 metres height to qualify for the definition, and the tallest of all, the 152 m (498 ft) BT Tower, is discounted as it is not a habitable building.