Murdoch and Pitman Buildings to get a regal makeover

MP DevCo Ltd has acquired the Murdoch Chambers and Pitman Building on Birmingham’s Corporation Street.

The development company – a joint venture between Regal Property Group and Trigram Properties – has bought the Grade II* listed buildings from Birmingham City Council, facilitated by a £4.5m bridging loan from The Harrogate Group.

The JV partners have planning and listed building consent for a four-star hotel, to include the restoration of the existing Grade II listed façade and an 11-storey extension at the rear of the building.

Built in 1896, the Murdoch and Pitman buildings housed a hotel and a vegetarian restaurant – believed to be Britain’s first – where it’s claimed Indian independence campaigner Mahatma Gandhi once dined. The Pitman building was named after Sir Isaac Pitman, the creator of Pitman’s shorthand and vice-president of the Vegetarian Society at the time.

The Arts and Crafts style buildings boast a wealth of period features, including ornamental stonework, decorative cornicing and red terracotta elevations typical of the Victorian era.

Both buildings were designed by Joseph Crouch and Edmund Butler to house furnishers A. R. Dean and Pitman’s Birmingham Vegetarian Hotel and Restaurant. The activities of the occupiers are reflected in the main feature of the facade, a buff terracotta frieze over the ground floor depicting diners at table to the right and carpenters at work to the left. This was produced by Benjamin Creswick, along with the buff terracotta allegorical figure group – representing Birmingham and Industry – on the gable.

Mark Holbeche, Regal Property Group, said: “Corporation Street was historically one of Birmingham’s most prestigious streets. It is home to several Victorian buildings, including the Victoria Law Courts and the Methodist Central Hall, with the latter also to be repurposed as a hotel. Our scheme will help to regenerate this historic area of the city as well as delivering much needed new hotel beds.”

Regal Property Group was founded in 1994 and has delivered a range of commercial and residential schemes in Birmingham over the last 20 years. Schemes include The Bank residential towers 1 and 2 on Broad Street, Regal Court apartments on Bishopgate Street and the 30-storey South Central scheme on Essex Street, which will deliver 166 apartments when complete in 2024. Regal has also recently submitted plans for a 49-storey Build to Rent (BtR) tower, comprising 526 apartments, at 90 – 97 Broad Street.

Trigram Properties has a track record of partnership development in Birmingham and the West Midlands, including sensitive listed building renovations and state-of-the-art commercial and residential property.

Faisal Arif, chief executive of The Harrogate Group, said: “We were impressed with MP Dev Co’s plans for the Murdoch and Pitman site and with their track record of delivery. It’s great to be able to provide the finance to kick-start the restoration of these historically significant buildings and we look forward to working with MP Dev Co on the development funding for the scheme.”

Work on site is anticipated to start mid 2023, with completion in 2025.