Loft Living a Threat to Quarter's Heritage Bid

The Birmingham Post (England), September 29, 2009 | Go to article overview
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Loft Living a Threat to Quarter's Heritage Bid


Byline: NEIL ELKES

The Jewellery Quarter's chances of earning World Heritage Status could be seriously under threat unless developers of new trendy loft apartments and offices are brought into line, it has been claimed.

Over-large buildings of haphazard and untidy design are still being built despite the recent introduction of new planning policies to preserve the historic area's character, it has emerged.

And buildings such as the new Travelodge Hotel in Newhall Street and Altitude flats in Camden Street are marred by huge gaudy commercial signs running down their sides.

As home to Britain's jewellery industry for more than 200 years, the Quarter has high hopes of securing the tourism boosting World Heritage status - joining the likes of the Pyramids at Giza and Acropolis in Athens on the list of most historically significant places in the world.

But Birmingham City Council's regeneration scrutiny committee was told that bid could be dealt a huge blow if planners, architects and developers are allowed to continue as they have.

David Mahoney, chairman of the Jewellery Quarter Association strongly urged the city council, which owns 300 properties in the area, to get its own buildings in order first.

He said: "The Birmingham city estate is in dreadful condition and makes up a huge part of the area. The council also sold the Science Museum site and Great Charles Street site and these have not been developed to any great benefit apart from this Travelodge and a car park."

Mr Mahoney, an architect, also blamed cost cutting developers and woeful council enforcement of planning consent, from making changes to approved designs such as using cheaper materials or adding extra storeys.

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