One of the country's leading urban renewal experts is to devise a ten-year plan for a multi-billion pound regeneration of Birmingham city centre.
Professor Michael Parkinson has been appointed to lead Birmingham City Council's masterplanning team in drawing up a vision for the transformation of 5,000 acres within the middle ring road.
Prof Parkinson, an internationally acclaimed planner at Liverpool John Moores University, was the author of a hard-hitting Government report into the economic performance of UK cities.
His State of the English Cities study, published earlier this year, concluded that most British cities were lagging behind their European counterparts with centralisation and Government interference in local decision making stifling innovation and economic growth.
His inquiry also found that cities with poor graduate retention rates - something that Birmingham has suffered from - lag behind competitors.
Prof Parkinson's remit will be to devise a growth strategy to enable Birmingham to become a globally competitive city. He will lead the initial stage of analysis, assessment and promotion of the first masterplan for Birmingham city centre. His team is expected to consider how a number of high-profile regeneration projects can fit together and be delivered.
These include Eastside, New Street Station, the redevelopment of Paradise Circus and Snow Hill, as well as the Westend project to expand the city centre from Brindleyplace towards Edgbaston Reservoir.
"I am delighted that I have been invited to undertake this very exciting work," he said.
"Birmingham has always been a major national and international player and the developments of the next ten years will make it an even bigger player.
"I look forward to working with partners in the city to channel all the excitement and energy to make it an even greater success." Council leaders could scarcely conceal a note of triumph at having acquired an academic of international repute to take forward city centre planning.
Coun Mike Whitby (Con Harborne), the leader of the council, said: "There has never been one masterplan for the whole city centre and the time is ripe to look at how all this new development fits together and begin to plan proactively for the next generation of transformation.
"Professor Parkinson has an excellent track record and I am delighted that he has agreed to lead the team which will put create the vision we need to make Birmingham a magnet for growth and investment and a dynamic 21st century city."
Coun Ken Hardeman (Con Brandwood), cabinet member for regeneration, said: "This appointment will give impetus and strength around how we should go forward in transforming Birmingham city centre.
"The masterplan will make sure that future development is part of a coherent vision for the city centre, and ensure that Birmingham develops as a city befitting its recent designation as European City of the Future."
Prof Parkinson's first job will be to undertake an economic assessment, benchmarking Birmingham against the most successful comparable international cities in the world. His findings will be reported to the next city summit in the autumn.