Residents of Birmingham’s historic Jewellery Quarter have accused the city council of falling down on a promise to transform the unique area into a creative village for small businesses.
Council leaders and the regional development agency Advantage West Midlands are not doing enough to meet a pledge made four years ago to develop "a honey pot for creative businesses" by 2010, according to the Jewellery Quarter Neighbourhood Forum.
The forum will next week publish a critical manifesto called Time To Polish The Gem in an attempt to draw attention to what it says is a lack of progress in underpinning the future of the best preserved example of Birmingham’s industrial heritage.
The forum spokesman is Phil Davis, the former Labour leader of Telford and Wrekin Council, who now lives in the Jewellery Quarter.
Mr Davis said the council would have to "considerably up its game" if it was serious about trying to win World Heritage Status for the area.
He added: "We have an urban gem which the city recognises as unique in Britain - why isn’t there a more joined up approach to protecting and developing it?
"As residents we have published a manifesto which calls for action to make good the various promises and policies."
The forum says it recognises the council cannot deliver on its own and is calling on Advantage West Midlands to "take its responsibilities seriously".
Mr Davis added: "The Jewellery Quarter is a regional asset that AWM should be backing with investment. Residents want to see a prosperous, thriving area that also attracts tourists because of its unique character.
"This way the Jewellery Quarter can have a beneficial effect for a much wider area and be a flagship for the city’s new image - but also for the wider West Midlands."
In a statement questioning lack of progress since 2002, when the council said it would create a "vibrant atmosphere which not only attracts people to live, play and visit but also acts as a honey pot for creative businesses ranging from the current jewellery business base to arts and media", the forum hit out at a lack of action to protect buildings at risk.
Major management and resourcing questions remained unanswered and it was unclear how much money the council and AWM were actually committing directly to the quarter, the forum said.
The statement added: "While threats to the uniqueness of the Jewellery Quarter were identified in the 2002 Conservation Area Appraisal, not enough action has been taken to protect the quarter from poorly designed new build, dereliction and the unnecessary loss of buildings of character.
"Neither is the conservation area design brief fully enforced by the city. More effective commitment to tackling these problems will be required by the council with better co-ordination between departments and a genuinely corporate approach to the quarter if the World Heritage status the quarter deserves is to be successfully pursued."
The forum is urging the council to undertake a major review of its Jewellery Quarter regeneration policies, and has set the following priorities:
* "Improving the Fazeley Canal route into the quarter from Brindley Place.
* "Creating a public space/piazza in the Chamberlain clock/Big Peg area.
* "Refurbishing historic cemeteries at Warstone Lane and Key Hill as open space and historic attractions.
* "Upgrading the route from Church Street to Ludgate Hill, with a replacement high-quality pedestrian link over Great Charles Street re-emphasising the historic links between St Phillip's Square and St Paul's Square.
A council spokesman said: "One of the most important aspects of any large-scale regeneration project is gaining the active participation and support of local residents in the area affected.
"We therefore warmly welcome the forum’s commitment to the regeneration process and are pleased to see they broadly share the same objectives as the council.
"Working alongside local partners we are determined to do all we can to secure not just World Heritage status, but also the long-term loving care and prosperity of one of the true jewels in Birmingham’s crown."