Chief executive and assay master Michael Allchin commented: “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.
“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.”
Since planning permission was granted before Christmas, Assay Office staff have been working closely with a team of external consultants to work on the details of the building’s specification and spatial plans 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 floor space 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 Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter, and will create a new gateway to the area.
“This project is incredibly important,” said Assay Office sales and marketing director Marion Wilson.
“We all regard ourselves as custodians of the institution that 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.”