A new village square off Kings Heath High Street in Birmingham has been welcomed by residents and shoppers.
Dancers, drummers and choirs entertained the crowds at the £660,000 square outside All Saints Church on Saturday.
Bishop of Birmingham, David Urquhart blessed the new square and switched on the water feature – one of many pieces of art work commissioned for the project.
Rev John Wilkinson, who was vicar at All Saints until 2008, said: “It was a difficult project involving a lot of legalities. It demanded a lot of persistence from a lot of people.
“One minute you’re encouraging artists to dream, the next you’re negotiating with lawyers and planners. But the results are all worth it. The sun has shone on us today.”
Rev David Warbrick, parish priest, said he hoped it would become an oasis, away from the hustle of Kings Heath High Street.
“I’m very proud to be part of a church that thinks so daringly about its land,” he said. “The High Street is very busy so we have introduced somewhere you can stop and be reflective.”
Retired teacher Sara Packer watched as granddaughter Elfie, aged 18 months, splashed about in the water jets.
“It’s a fantastic use of the space,” said Sara, aged 60, of Kings Heath. “It’s lovely and welcoming and will become a really nice place for people to meet.”
University director Katy Boom, aged 50, of Worcester, was impressed by the standard of the art work.
“The whole thing is utterly stunning,” she said. “What I really like is the quality. Sometimes community projects skimp on quality but that’s not the case here. It’s really nice to see that kind of investment.”
Student Louise Palfreyman, aged 38, of Kings Heath, said she was looking forward to seeing how the square would be used.
“I think it’s a fantastic addition to the community,” said the mum-of-one. “It’s such an amazing space. I like its potential. You can look ahead and think about all the wonderful things that will happen here over the years. It’s a happy day for Kings Heath.”
The project is part of the All Saints Community Development project which started in 1997 and has already seen the opening of a community and medical centre adjoining the church.
It has been funded by the Big Lottery, Birmingham City Council and Kings Heath Centre Partnership.