A contemporary museum of modern art could be incorporated into the £600 million redevelopment of New Street Station.
That is just one of the ideas for a transformation of culture, leisure and sport contained in the Big City Plan.
While Birmingham already plays host to household names on the cultural and sporting circuit, including Symphony Hall, the Hippodrome and Rep Theatres, the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, the National Indoor Arena, Warwickshire County Cricket club and two professional football clubs, greater choice across the board is required to promote the city’s “national and global image”, according to planners.
The document warns: “Unlike some cities, Birmingham does not have a highly developed leisure scene with distinct and differentiated leisure areas.
“There is also a need for more leisure and restaurant independents to give Birmingham a more distinct identity.
“This is perhaps a surprise in a big city with a young age structure and with several universities and colleges.”
Permanent arts exhibitions could be staged in some of the major new buildings planned for the city centre, it is suggested.
A familiar theme, the need for more flexible indoor and outdoor space for events, is picked up.
The Southside area, to the south of New Street Station, could provide an opportunity for creating such space, the report suggests.
It goes on: “The Big City Plan will also explore the concept of using the whole city centre as a gallery, getting exhibits and works or art into the streets and squares of the city and into prominent locations on buildings.”
The public are asked to comment on how the city can go about creating the right conditions for formal, free and spontaneous outdoor events and what steps should be taken to create a livelier street scene. The provision of informal outdoor spaces will allow impromptu arts and theatre performances to take place adding to the variety and life of the city the plan suggests.
Improving the cultural offer is linked to a strategy to concentrate on striking design for new public and private sector buildings and to open up Birmingham’s wealth of hidden and culverted waterways. The aim is to make a former industrial city more pleasant on the eye.
The document adds: “The city has grown around the banks of the River Rea and the canal network. The theme of Birmingham as a Water City could build from opportunities to transform these existing features and extend the imaginative use of water throughout the streets, squares, parks and buildings of the city centre with water installations and fountains.”
Proposals are put forward for opening up parts of the canal network currently hidden from public view.
“Parts of the network have been substantially improved over recent years, most notably at the Mailbox, Gas Street Basin and Brindleyplace, but other parts are unattractive and do not feel secure.
“The canal network has the potential to attract more people and activities and act as a safe alternative movement network whilst maintaining the industrial character.”
The document also calls for the creation of more parks and public open space to complement the 60,000 new homes expected to be built by 2026.