Conservationists have welcomed plans for a new public square at the heart of Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter, but warned that extra care must be taken to protect the £1.5 million development from possible vandalism.
The Golden Square is one of the first projects in the Big City Plan, which aims to transform the city centre in the coming years and will be paid for using money from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Under the proposal, land in front of the Big Peg on the corner of Waterstone Lane and Vyse Street will become home to a new square which the city council expects to be a popular meeting place as well as a venue for concerts, markets and other events.
As well as a paved plaza the square will contain a grassed area and tree-lined orchard with seats.
A canopy marking the entrance to the square will be decorated with gold leaf to mark the Jewellery Quarter’s historic significance.
Members of the council’s conservation and heritage panel broadly welcomed the design, but called for money to be made available to guarantee keeping the square and its surroundings in “pristine” condition.
Eva Ling, a spokeswoman for the Birmingham branch of the 20th Century Society, described the land in its present condition as an “eyesore”.
Ross Bellamy, from the Birmingham Civic Society, said: “At the moment this area looks very unkempt. But we need to know what provision will be made to keep the new square in a good condition.”
Tim Bridges, from the Victorian Society, said: “This could be something very prone to vandalism and if there is no financial provision for maintenance, then that could be difficult.”
Andy Williams, from Capita Lovejoy, the scheme’s designers, said it would be up to the council to maintain the new square.
Mr Williams added: “It’s got to be looked after. We want this to look great in 10 or 15 years time.”
He pledged that design standards would not be sacrificed in order to cut costs.
“We have costed it and it is deliverable within budget. We are very comfortable about that.”