Birmingham’s Chinese Quarter, the Arcadian and the Hurst Street Gay Village could be set up as an entertainment hub to match Broad Street, according to members of an influential planning group.
The Birmingham City Centre Partnership, an organisation set up to improve the city centre, is carrying out a study into setting up a Business Improvement District to cover the area, like the ones that manage Broad Street and the city’s retail centre.
Neville Summerfield, cabinet member for regeneration at Birmingham City Council, said: “Birmingham City Centre Partnership has already started to look at whether a Business Improvement District might be viable for the Southside district of the city centre, which includes the Arcadian, Gay Village and Chinese Quarter.
"Although this work is at a very early stage, improvements to the trading environment, such as better marketing, festive lights and a more attractive street scene could well be an outcome – as has been the case with both Broad Street and Retail Birmingham BIDs.”
The partnership held a summit to discuss the idea last month, which attracted widespread support from the local business community, who seemed keen on the idea, he added.
The Broad Street BID is funded by larger local businesses, and is run as a partnership with local business owners, police, council and neighbourhood representatives on the board.
Warren Jobe, the owner of Sobar and Apartment 201 at the Arcadian, said he thought setting up a BID for the area would be a good idea, but wanted to see stricter management to avoid some of the problems he saw in the Broad Street area.
“Something like that could work,” he said, adding he wanted to see the Arcadian’s contribution to the city recognised as much as more high-profile areas like Broad Street.
He said areas such as the Arcadian should receive more council support to help maintain the economic boost they bring the city. Council support could come in many forms, from helping engage the Arcadian centre with Birmingham’s business communities or placing the site more prominently on Birmingham’s tourist board to simple actions such as helping with Christmas light decorations, he added.
“The Arcadian’s design lends itself perfectly to civic celebrations such as Christmas. A simple joint venture between independent operators and the council on such an event would make a significant step forward in communications between the parties and, more importantly, a major contribution to the Birmingham city community,” said Mr Jobe.
“Birmingham is a city that enjoys significant revenue created by the leisure industry.
“The Arcadian Centre is a very successful business model and it could be even more successful if we had more ongoing support from Birmingham City Council.”
Coun Summerfield (Con Brandwood) said any development in the city would be controlled under the umbrella of the Big City Plan.
He said: “As part of the Big City Plan currently being prepared to drive forward the continued regeneration of the city centre, funding is to be made available to progress early actions from the plan. “One of the key themes of the Big City Plan is to improve the Southside area.
Approximately £500,000 is to be allocated to take forward aspects of the feasibility study to secure public realm improvements.
“It is anticipated that the scheme be designed in detail during 2008 and implemented during 2009. Priorities for the improvements will be drawn up through the Gay Village Development Group and consulted upon widely. It is intended that the funding available will produce a transformational change that meets the needs of the local community, recognising also the importance of improving the experience for the many visitors and tourists that come to this part of the city centre.”