National Lottery officials have approved a £250,000 grant towards the development of a new city park at Birmingham Eastside.

The cash will be used by the city council to work up a bid to the Big Lottery Living Landmarks Fund for £20 million to build the park and carry out environmental improvements in Digbeth.

Described as an exciting and memorable scheme which will be a "landmark for decades and generations to come", the project aims to deliver Birmingham's first city centre park for more than 100 years.

The council has until May next year to submit a final application for Living Landmarks lottery funding, with winning projects from across the country to be announced in October 2007.

In a report to the council cabinet, the park is described as an ambitious project of considerable scale and inspirational design. A shortlist of possible designs will be published later this month.

The report adds: "The chance to create a significant area of new public realm so close to the heart of a modern city is unusual, and for Birmingham presents a unique and also much-needed opportunity.

"The area available for the new park would more than double the amount of open space available in the city centre, and most excitingly presents an opportunity to create something innovative, exciting and memorable which would be a landmark for decades and generations to come."

The park will allow the city centre core to extend into Eastside and Digbeth.