Plans for the new building for The Birmingham Assay Office took another step forward last week when Birmingham City Council approved a £1.2m grant from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) .
Chief Executive and Assay Master Michael Allchin welcomed the news “The profile of our business has changed significantly in the past ten years and the future of The Birmingham Assay Office depends upon it being able to continue to diversify and expand its activities.” he said. “Our current building has been extended outwards and upwards since it was built in 1877 but is no longer fit for our purpose. It is time to move on. The additional ERDF funding by Birmingham City Council will allow us to build a new purpose built facility in the Jewellery Quarter where we belong, saving jobs, creating new ones and kick-starting development at an important gateway to the Quarter.”
The grant is a boost for staff at The Assay Office who have been working hard on a detailed specification for the new building since planning permission was granted just before Christmas. Working closely with a team of external consultants, led by Project Manager Mark Wright of Trebor Developments and architects Simon Rea and Helen Wootton of Glazzard Architects, space is being carefully planned for each of its five divisions. A detailed building specification will be put out to tender by April with a view to building commencing in summer 2013 for completion in mid 2014.
Birmingham City Council Cabinet Member for Development, Jobs and Skills, Cllr Tahir Ali, said: “Having secured £4million of ERDF funding for land and property developments in Digbeth and the Jewellery Quarter, I am delighted that we are able to award £1.2million to the Birmingham Assay Office towards the cost of building new office accommodation in Hockley. This grant will give additional business floorspace and help the Birmingham Assay Office to expand its analysis and testing of metals and precious material operation, a growing part of its business. Furthermore, the award will create six new jobs and help to safeguard 100 existing jobs in a business that is unique to Birmingham.”
The new Assay Office site is in an Enterprise Zone on the edge of the Quarter, and will create an impressive new “gateway” which is expected to kick start more investment in the unique Jewellery Quarter area. Marion Wilson, Sales, and Marketing Director said, “This project is incredibly important. We all regard ourselves as custodians of the institution which is The Birmingham Assay Office. It is a privilege and a huge responsibility to be planning a building to accommodate the business for the next hundred years, to continue the legacy.”