ARCHITECTS are being urged to enter a competition to design a new £1.5 million “golden square” in Birmingham’s historic jewellery quarter.

It is hoped the square, which will replace the car park in front of the Big Peg office block in Vyse Street, will provide a meeting point and stage big events.

Andy Munro, spokesman for the Jewellery Quarter Regeneration Partnership, one of the organisations behind the project, said: “I think this will be a much-needed boost for the quarter, which is desperately lacking somewhere we can really show off what the area is all about.”

He said the information centre outside the Big Peg will also be replaced by a new and improved facility, which will double as an art gallery.

The nearby clock tower, built at Vyse Street, Warstone Lane and Frederick Street more than 100 years ago to honour MP Joseph Chamberlain, one of Birmingham’s favourite sons, will remain untouched, although the road layout could change. The Rose Villa Tavern pub, a listed building in Warstone Lane, will also be left as it is, he added.

“We hope the square will be as big an attraction as the Bull Ring and people will come just to have their picture taken there,” added Mr Munro. “This is a great opportunity and a good contract for an architect that shares our passion about the future of the quarter.”

He said architects can submit designs online and a jury will whittle entrants down to a shortlist of six before a winner is chosen in April, with the square likely to be complete by 2010.

The project, part of the Big City Plan to transform Birmingham over 30 years, was revealed at the launch of a new guide and website aimed at attracting more visitors.

More than 50,000 copies of the booklet, Platinum, are being sent out across the country and website has gone live to encourage more shoppers to spend on Birmingham-produced jewellery.

The guide and website boast the quarter’s history and heritage and feature a variety of shopping tips.

Coun Neville Summerfield, cabinet member for regeneration at Birmingham City Council, said: “The Jewellery Quarter is absolutely unique and a precious part of Birmingham’s heritage, but to some extent it still remains a hidden gem. We are delighted to have worked in partnership with various bodies and organisations.”