Birmingham should be more proud of its heritage and place historic gems such as the Jewellery Quarter and Back-to-Back houses at the centre of the City of Culture bid.
Chris Hargreaves, Birmingham City Council’s head of conservation, who retires this month after 38 years working in the city’s planning department, said the city has failed to exploit great marketing opportunities from its rich history.
He said: “Birmingham behaves as if it is embarrassed by its heritage. It could be used a lot more when promoting the city around the world. We have the City of Culture bid, but there has been little mention of the history in that.
“I can reel off a list of conservation successes, St Martin in the Bull Ring, the Town Hall, Saracens Head in Kings Norton, Moor Street Station, the Back to Back Houses and the School of Jewellery.”
Chris was critical sof the drive to rebuild Birmingham and the compromises made on development.
“I wish we could say the same about the quality of new development generally. This has been something of a disappointment. I don’t understand the obsession with big glazed office blocks.”
In recent months the voice of the conservation lobby has been ignored over the replacement of the NatWest Tower in Colmore Row and the new Beorma Quarter in Digbeth.
The council is not replacing Mr Hargreaves and his team of expert officials will be broken up and absorbed into the planning department as part of recession-prompted clampdown on council spending.
*Read the full interview with Chris Hargreaves in this week’s Birmingham Post, out today.