The reputation of the West Midlands as a major tourist and shopping destination has received a £1 billion boost.

Plans to rejuvenate large swathes of Coventry city centre for the first time in more than 60 years were welcomed as further enhancement of the region's retail image.

Californian planning firm Jerde will be appointed today to spearhead proposals which will see the city's outdated precinct demolished to make way for a new shopping district.

Civic leaders in Coventry aim to double the amount of shopping in the retail core to raise the profile of the city, which is the 11th biggest in the UK but ranks at 43 in terms of shopping.

The proposals were welcomed by the city's neighbours, who said they also stood to benefit from the regeneration.

John Lamb, head of communications at Birmingham and Solihull Chamber of Commerce, said doom-mongers had predicted the death of Birmingham's retail core with the construction of Solihull's Touchwood centre and before that the Merry Hill Centre in Dudley.

Instead, the development of a diverse range of shopping centres had helped to increase the profile of the region as a whole, he said.

"This is great news in terms of increasing the retail profile of the West Midlands.

"I think that other shopping destinations that have been created in recent years have proved that we can all work together for the benefit of all," he said.

"Coventry used to be known as the centre for car manufacturing. Obviously it has taken a hammering in recent years and that has shown on the city centre.

"But now there will be a regeneration that will help put the city back on the map."

Coventry boosted its retail profile days before Christmas with the opening of an Ikea store on Croft Road - the first of the Swedish furniture giant's stores to be located in a city centre location - and Primark recently opened an outlet in the city centre.

The new retail core will stretch from Ikea and the SkyDome to Primark and the upper Precinct, taking in West Orchards, Lower Precinct and the award-winning Coventry Market.

Kevin Breese, general manager of Harvey Nichols and a board member of Retail Birmingham Business Improvement District, said he welcomed improvements to Coventry city centre.

He said: "This investment will help to further enhance the West Midlands' image as a top shopping destination and impact positively on other shopping areas in the region, not least Birmingham as its style capital.

"Our aim is to attract more visitors from further afield and by providing a broader offer people are more likely to travel further and stay for longer, taking in all there is to see in the area during their visit.

"Birmingham has established a strong position as a shopping and fashion capital, with flagship stores that are the only ones of their kind for many miles, as well as a diverse range of individual stores.

"Improving the facilities and environment in neighbouring town centres will create more jobs, help to attract more big name retailers that currently do not have a presence in the region and ultimately bring more wealth into the economy."

The whole project would cost about £1 billion, take between 10 and 15 years to complete and will depend on private firms investing.

The council is already talking to the other major landowners, Morley and Scottish Life.

Dave Hodgson, marketing director at Marketing Birmingham said: "We currently work with partners as far a field as Coventry, Warwick and Stratford as we recognise the many strengths that other towns and cities in the area have and the wider benefit of promoting the region to leisure and business tourists alike."

* Details about Coventry's plans were revealed as Government Minister Rosie Winterton said a decision on funding for the redevelopment of Birmingham's New Street Station would be made 'shortly'.