Alsop’s designs for Birmingham New Street face the axe – although Network Rail owns the intellectual rights

Network Rail calls for fresh designer at Alsop's station
Network Rail calls for fresh designer at Alsop's station

Rail operator Network Rail is hiring a design team to work on the troubled Birmingham New Street station by architect Alsop & Partners – which was bought out of administration in October – and may scrap Alsop’s original designs.

A spokesperson from Network Rail confirmed that a 44-week design development period for the £350m scheme would only begin once a design team was in place. He said that a tender for a design consultant, contractors and specialist subcontractors would go out before Christmas.

The spokesperson added: “Funding is confirmed for the project and we are confident it will go ahead and be completed for 2011.”

Alsop’s design partner on the station scheme, multidisciplinary consultant Atkins, is talking to several leading architects. It is also considering whether to enter into a new partnership to take the project forward.

A source close to Atkins said that there was still confusion over the future of the scheme. He said: “There are a lot of stakeholders on the client side, not just Network Rail. The city council is a key player as is [regional development agency] Advantage West Midlands, which has put up funding for the project.”

The Network Rail spokesperson said it had yet to be decided whether Alsop’s designs would be dispensed with or whether the scheme would be retendered with an engineering-led consortium taking over and using Alsop’s designs. She said: “We will need to talk to our new design partner about the scheme. However, we do own the intellectual property rights to the Alsop designs.”

Alsop and Atkins refused to comment.

The project has been beset by funding difficulties, which were finally resolved when Advantage West Midlands committed itself to finding the missing money.

n Keith Clarke, the chief executive of Atkins, said this week that the company was “no longer a recovery business” after it announced a 50% increase in half-year pre-tax profit to £26.6m.