Work has begun to give one of one Birmingham's most 'prominent eyesores' a #2 million facelift.

Paradise Forum, the atrium underneath the Central Library, is to undergo a short-term 'improvement programme' by owner Argent.

A planning application has been submitted involving upgraded lighting and flooring, new retail and exhibition space and a better mix of retail.

Demolition has begun on the south side of the Mall to be followed by new units similar to the McDonalds.

Several units, including bar Raphaels and the standalone retail barrows, have closed.

James Heather, Argent project director, said: "We are at the stage at Paradise Forum when it really starts to get exciting - as we see physical activity taking place.

"The dated decoration which gave the Forum its name in the late 1980s is going and we are working to deliver a much improved retail and convenience location."

According to Argent, approximately 11.8 million visitors pass through every year.

The group hopes to redevelop the area to something similar to Brindleyplace, also built by Argent.

Councillor Ken Hard-eman, cabinet member for regeneration at Birmingham City Council, said: "The activity at Paradise Forum, not least the powerful hoardings and removal of paraphernalia visually associated with it, sends a loud message change in Birmingham has not stalled."

The first units will be ready in the new year.