One of Britain's biggest ethical investment funds has accused Birmingham City Council of failing to deliver in its sustainable development promises.
Igloo Regeneration, which is bidding for a contract to transform a large tranche of Digbeth, accused council officials of being unwilling to engage in a serious debate about sustainability issues and failing to make Eastside a first class example of sustainable development.
The fund's directors will hear after Christmas whether they have been successful in winning the multi-million pound Venture East scheme – a joint city council-AWM project covering land between Millennium Point and Lawley Middleway.
Igloo Regeneration, part of City institutional fund Morley Fund Management, has submitted a proposal for a one million square foot mixed-use scheme based around developing the creative industries and enhancing the natural features of the canal.
Existing buildings would be re-used wherever possible, rather than demolished, and the emphasis is on making the project as sustainable as possible.
David Roberts, Igloo's deputy chief executive, fears the council and AWM will choose an unimaginative "shed scheme" of housing and offices in order to make more money from the site.
He said: "It is a problem that we often encounter with local authorities who are trying to sell land to the private sector. They struggle with strong public-value sustainable development.
"If you have two bidders and one person wants to do an environmentally sustainable scheme and another person doesn't, the person who doesn't can generally offer much more for a site because they are not paying for all the environmental stuff that goes into the scheme."
After talking to council planners, Mr Roberts formed the view, that they did not understand sustainability. He added: "The council's ability to respond to enlightened developers like ourselves who want to do sustainable schemes, their ability to engage, just doesn't seem to be there.
"We want to do it and yet we are finding it difficult to build a relationship with the council. They are struggling to have an environmental dialogue."
Mr Roberts said other local authorities were keener on sustainability than Birmingham. His comments are the latest in a line of critical allegations about Eastside.
The British Council for Sustainable Development said last month that Birmingham lacked determination and committment to sustainability.
A director of the design group Arup called for stronger council leadership and warned of Eastside's sustainability being lost in the drive for cutting costs.
Earlier this week, a council scrutiny committee expressed concern that the development of Eastside to date had not been sustainable and was lacking in vision.
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