A 120- year- old Birmingham metal-bashing firm has warned it will go out of business if a plan to redevelop its Jewellery Quarter site is rejected.
The future of precision engineers A E Harris depends on being able to sell its existing site for a mixed-use development of houses, offices and workshops.
Money raised from the sale would allow the company to relocate out of the city centre, Birmingham planning committee heard yesterday.
But the proposed redevelopment scheme for A E Harris's Northwood Street site breaks council planning policy, which seeks to safeguard the loss of manufacturing in the Jewellery Quarter and prohibits land occupied by factories being used for large-scale housing development.
A planning application seeks permission for 210 apartments, 5,000 sq metres of offices and 1,725 sq ms of shopping space plus a number of small workshops.
It would mean the loss of 12,422 sq ms of manufacturing space occupied by A E Harris in the Golden Triangle - the historic centre of the Jewellery Quarter.
Spokesman John Wilson said the survival of A E Harris depended on a positive decision.
He said the company, which employs 74 people, had been hit by economic factors beyond its control including the strong pound and increased competition from the Far East.
Mr Wilson added: "The existing premises are outdated, fragmented and reduce the capability of competing in the market place. Costs must be driven down if the company is to survive. We have to move or we die."
Clive Dutton, council director of regeneration and planning, warned the provision of new housing in the Jewellery Quarter had already resulted in the loss of industrial buildings. Property prices were increasing as a result.
The continued industrial use of manufacturing premises and traditional industries in the Quarter was being threatened.
Mr Dutton added: "The density and integrity of industrial premises in the Golden Triangle makes a powerful contribution to the character of the Jewellery Quarter."
The committee deferred the application in order to allow councillors to visit the site before making a decision.