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Friday, March 24, 2006
Richard Rogers quits Birmingham
In a classic case of party political wrangling destroying the possibility of decent regeneration schemes, and wasting huge amounts of public money in the process, the Richard Rogers Partnership has decided to sever all links with its work in Birmingham.

RRP is abandoning its work on the City Park Gate scheme (after how much money on fees has been spent?) and to sever its links with the city. Rogers' decision was prompted by three years of political wrangling at Birmingham council, which culminated in the scrapping of his £180m Centenary Library on the City Park Gate site.

RRP's exit could adversely affect the £6bn Masshouse regeneration project in the Eastside district of the city centre. A report by Gardiner & Theobald last July concluded that RRP would help the council secure government and external funding, as it would deliver an iconic building of international importance. A spokesperson for RRP added: "The Park Gate scheme was based around the library and the designs reflected that. There was a sense of ensemble in the street layout and massing. With the loss of the library, the scheme as it stands is no longer relevant. Countryside is now planning a revision to the original scheme. We feel it would be more appropriate for another practice to take it forward."

Rogers has been caught in the middle of a political battle in Birmingham over the future of the city's Central Library. His firm proposed a £180m one-site option in 2002, but it is thought that Conservative council leader Mike Whitby regarded Rogers' scheme as too expensive. The council, which is controlled by the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, voted in favour of the split site on Monday. This will create a lending library costing £105m in the city centre at Centenary Square and an archive and history centre at Millennium Point in Eastside. Rogers' scheme is still backed by the Labour councillors, and may be revived if they regain control of the city. (via Building, subscription needed)

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