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HS2 upgrade for world's oldest railway terminus building from 1838

An artist's impression of what trains on the HS2 may look like. Picture from Birmingham City Council

The oldest railway terminus building in the world is getting an HS2 overhaul after planners gave its refurbishment the green light.

Grade I-listed Curzon Street Station in Birmingham, built in 1838 as part of the city's first direct London rail-link, has lain boarded up and empty for a decade.

It sits on Historic England's at-risk register, but council planners have now approved a refurbishment of the freestanding building.

The project makes up one part of the separate and much broader scheme to build a new seven-platform HS2 station next door to the city centre location.

Following the planning committee decision, on Thursday, Curzon Street is on track to be transformed into office space, a visitor centre and cafe.

The move has been welcomed by Historic England, which will move its regional offices to the location, Birmingham City University, HS2 Ltd as well as owners the city council.

What was once the old Victorian station's entrance building was designed by Philip Charles Hardwick, the same architect of London's Euston Arch - which was controversially flattened in the 1960s.

It was connected to surrounding structures as part of what was Birmingham's main rail hub to the capital, but the rest of the site was demolished and cleared.

The station closed in the 1960s, and regular use of the last standing building as rented space ended in 2006.

Ownership will remain with the city council but, following the signing of lease agreements with the university and others, work could start in November and be finished by next summer.

A masterplan of the site locates the city's new HS2 station alongside the venerable building.

Journey times between Birmingham and London will be cut to 45 minutes when high-speed rail services start in 2026.

The Manchester and Leeds extension which is due to come on line in 2033, will also see journey times to both cities reduce significantly.

Veryan Heal, Historic England planning director, said: "I first saw this wonderful building from the train when I came to Birmingham to start my new job over three years ago.

"It truly inspired me and I have been determined to find a future for it and take it off the Heritage at Risk Register ever since.

"Curzon Street Station was at the cutting edge of railway technology in the 1830s and it will be playing a cutting edge role again - at the centre of a new railway fit for the 21st century.

"This amazing building was the world's first mainline passenger railway connected to London and today it still represents the civic pride and ambition of the city of Birmingham."

Mike Lyons, HS2 programme director, said: "The arrival of HS2 is driving growth and regeneration right across the Midlands and it's fitting that we are playing a leading role in restoring the oldest railway terminus in the world whilst simultaneously revolutionising rail travel for future generations on the very same spot.

"Redeveloping the former Curzon Street station building was never part of HS2's remit, but we committed to working with Historic England, Birmingham City University and Birmingham City Council to try and make it happen."

Council leader John Clancy said: "The redevelopment of Curzon Street station will link Birmingham's illustrious past with its bright future.

"This iconic building was once a focal point for the UK rail network and now it will be at the very heart of HS2.

"It's clear that the arrival of HS2 will be about so much more than fast trains to and from London.

"This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to continue Birmingham's transformation and the rebirth of Curzon Street station will embody that transformation."

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