High-Rise Buildings Improve Output; DEVELOPMENT

The Birmingham Post (England), September 9, 2008 | Go to article overview

High-Rise Buildings Improve Output; DEVELOPMENT


Byline: By Tom Scotney Business Staff

Birmingham's portfolio of high-rise property developments will increase the productivity of its workforce, the British Property Federation has said.

But local groups said developers should not let economic pressures force them into buildings that would ruin the character of the city.

The BPF claim working in a high-density environment can provide the equivalent of a pounds 2,500 boost to productivity every year, and said economic issues should be considered alongside visual ones when planning decisions are made.

Liz Peace, chief executive of the BPF, said: "Getting policy right is critical and policy makers need to understand and take account of the full range of impacts high density and tall buildings can have - from the aesthetic to the economic. We hope those involved will draw useful insights from this report.

"We may be in a downturn, but in years to come there will again be increased demand for commercial property, and in some areas, high density could be the solution. "

The report will be good news for the economy in Birmingham, which has several prominent highrise developments planned for the city centre.

Birmingham Civic Society, dedicated to preserving the character of the city, has come out in broad support of the 35-floor British Land Tower scheduled to replace the Natwest Tower.

Chairman Freddie Gick said he could easily believe high-density offices improve productivity, but he wanted to see developers work harder to improve the appearance of the surrounding area.

"I think it's inevitable we will see a lot more high rises built in the next few years" he said.

"It's inevitable because of land values. People want to live and work in city centres.

"But it would be interesting to see some innovative design on these buildings, and not just dull linear blocks.

"Without talking about any specific designs, I think the plans we have seen in Birmingham aren't sufficiently interesting." John Phillips, West Midlands regional director of the Institute of Directors, said: "We need to be proud of Birmingham.

"It needs to compete for business with global cities around the world. …

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