Backers of Birmingham’s first Business Improvement District have dismissed as “wild exaggeration” claims the Broad Street entertainment quarter has fallen victim to recession.
Claims in a BBC news programme as many as a quarter of the Golden Mile’s pubs and clubs are shut and boarded up were denied by BID manager Mike Olley.
He said less than 10 per cent of licensed premises space is closed, but this was largely a result of property acquisition in preparation for extensive regeneration at the Five Ways end of Broad Street.
Investment worth £1 billion is planned over the next few years including construction of two tower blocks containing luxury offices, flats and bars.
Mr Olley added in the past year the area has undergone redevelopment totalling £48 million. New venues include O Bar, Edmunds restaurant and the £8 million Gatecrasher club.
The Crowne Plaza hotel has benefited from a £16 million refurbishment, and blue chip tenants Deutsche Bank have opened offices at Brindleyplace.
Mr Olley added: “Gatecrasher is certainly acting as a lynchpin and this is having a knock-on effect on the rest of the street.”
Negotiations are under way about a possible new owner for the former Brannigan’s bar.
“When I sit in my office on a Friday and Saturday night and look out the window, Broad Street doesn’t appear very quiet to me. It is a wild exaggeration to suggest the street is dying,” Mr Olley added.
He was speaking after the third annual meeting of the Broad Street BID received a report detailing rapidly falling crime figures in an area once renowned for drunkenness and anti-social behaviour.
Offences are down from 3,300 a year in 2005 to little more than 1,000.
A concerted effort by the police and city council, including the introduction of street wardens and taxi marshalls, have turned Broad Street into one of the safest entertainment zones in the country, according to West Midlands Police.
Assistant Chief Constable Stuart Hyde said: “Keeping Broad Street safe is a true partnership between local businesses, police and, most importantly, the public, who visit this excellent venue.
“This approach is demonstrated by local officers and their work with restaurants, bars, hotels and clubs, focusing on making it a great experience. We hope people visit, and enjoy themselves, knowing they are in one of the safest locations in the UK”.