BAO wins £1.2m ERDF grant for new Assay building

New Assay Office space set to "kickstart" JQ’s development.

The Birmingham Assay Office has been awarded a £1.2 million grant by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to help fund the development of its new Birmingham building.

The money was awarded to the BAO last week after planning permission for the new Assay Office building in Hockley was granted just ahead of Christmas.

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Michael Allchin, Assay master and chief executive of the BAO, said: "The profile of our business has changed significantly in the past 10 years and the future of The Birmingham Assay Office depends upon it being able to continue to diversify and expand its activities.

“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.”

Staff at the BAO have been working with an outside team of consultants on a detailed specification for the new building. The group is working with project manager Mark Wright of Trebor Developments and Simon Rea and Helen Wootton of Glazzard Architects.

The new building’s specification will be put out for approval in April. The building of the new Assay Office should then commence this summer for completion in mid 2014.

About £4 million of ERDF funding has been given for land and property developments in Digbeth and the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham.

Birmingham City Council cabinet member for development, jobs and skills, Councillor Tahir Ali, said: "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 positioned within an "Enterprise Zone" on the edge of the Quarter. It will create a gateway into the area and is expected to kick start more local investment.

The BAO’s sales and marketing director Marion Wilson said: “This project is incredibly important. 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."




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