Over the last four years, we’ve lobbied the authorities, fundraised, invested over £100,000 in feasibility and worked tirelessly to secure a future for The Crown to bring it back into cultural use. This has been an extremely complex piece of work, navigating turbulent political situations and commercial interests. However ultimately, we have been unable to secure The Crown. 

To provide some context, the current owner will only sell The Crown with the adjacent car park and Shaftesbury House apartments, making it a high-value transaction that requires public sector funding to get it over the line. 

The combined footprint of the buildings makes it an attractive offer for commercial redevelopment at a critical gateway to the city, and The Crown’s locally listed status is not enough in itself to protect it from commercial redevelopment.

The Crown pub from the viewpoint of New Street Station. The building features three floors with the lower pub building with colourful boards in the window. There are people crossing the road.
The Crown from New Street Station

Having originally secured political support for the project under the previous Birmingham City Council Leader Ian Ward, BCC’s S114 troubles saw the new regime retract their offer of loan funding which constituted 60% of the money that we needed to buy the site. Whilst we tried to source alternative funding, a sticking point was getting funders to agree on the value of the site, which they would only consider in commercial redevelopment terms. 

Even demonstrating value and viability on a purely commercial basis backed up by two Government approved independent valuations, the overriding priority for decision-makers has kept coming back to the need to address the city’s housing crisis and a preference for commercial schemes.

The team exploring the interior of The Crown. With a man in a hard hat holding a bright light. Old features of the building are visible such as the door frame and plinth and an old fireplace.
The team exploring the interior of The Crown.

In the last few months, we have been pitted against a developer with a different vision to ours. We have no hard feelings towards this developer, they have been very open with us about the turn of events that ultimately led them to compete against us for funding and negotiate to purchase the site, whilst our own funding application was rejected based on not delivering enough housing units (this funding was critical to us after purchase, as it would enable us to invest in the apartments and rent them out to repay the loan).

It has become clear that the support we need to drive this project is in favour of a different agenda. We don’t doubt that Birmingham’s housing needs are justified, and that bold interventions are needed. But there is a point where we have to accept that our vision for The Crown and belief in its cultural value is out of sorts with the way the city seems to be evolving.

Therefore, whilst we are deeply disappointed and hold firm in our belief of The Crown’s huge cultural importance, we have had to begin exploring new opportunities and projects for our future growth

Two posters of the same design in yellow and white are pasted to the wall of The Crown. The poster is promoting a Rock events for the crown and features 'ROCK written in bold with a black and white illustrated drawing of rock stars. The timetable includes Thursday: Cosmic Fish, Friday: Heavy Metal, Saturday: Rock-Nite and Sunday: Dancing Fish.
Posters found at The Crown

We’re extremely thankful to those who bought into the vision and pledged their support – including the national Levelling Up Team in London who approved Community Ownership Funding, Arts Council England who supported the feasibility but like other funders, were unable to fund capital costs unless we owned the building, and the Feeney Trust in Birmingham, who stayed with us over the last year. 

And to those who supported, including Jez Collins from Birmingham Music Archive, Fiona Thomson at Trowers and Hamlins, Anna Parker at Intervention Architecture and countless others who have given valuable time, insights and advice along the way. Thank you. 

For further enquiries, please contact us here.