One of Birmingham's oldest metal-bashing firms edged closer to survival after councillors changed their minds over a controversial Jewellery Quarter redevelopment plan.
Proposals to demolish the A E Harris buildings in North-wood Street and build flats, shops and small industrial units on the site were backed by the council planning committee yesterday.
The committee had previously resisted the application, on the grounds that the land is zoned chiefly for manufacturing in the Jewellery Quarter Development Plan.
But members changed their minds after being told that A E Harris was inn danger of going out of business if it could not use the money raised from selling the site to move to a smaller out-of-town industrial estate.
A report to the planning committee warned: "The company has to relocate if it is to survive. If permission is refused there is a real danger that existing jobs will be lost and the site will become derelict losing the opportunity to improve the appearance of the conservation area and to provide new employment opportunities."
Claims that approval would "open the floodgates" for widespread housing development in the Jewellery Quarter were dismissed by the report.
A E Harris managing director Russell Luckock welcomed the decision, which he said gave the company hope for survival.
Mr Luckock said: "Hopefully, this will give us a way of keeping the show on the road.
"We have been here for 126 years. The reason we are having to move is because of the severe competition from the Far East."
A E Harris once employed more than 250 people. It now has a workforce of 58.
A final decision on the Northwood Street redevelopment plan will be made by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.
Mr Luckock added: "We are keeping our fingers crossed. I am absolutely convinced that the development being proposed will enhance the Jewellery Quarter, which has changed out of all recognition over the years."