Six of the West Midlands' biggest property developers have joined forces to defend the regeneration of Birmingham city centre, amid claims that progress on major building projects has stalled.
The six intervened in a bitter row between Birmingham City Council and the construction industry trade press following highly critical articles about the local authority's record on economic development.
A five-page report in Building magazine claimed the city's reputation for urban regeneration was being undermined by delays to high-profile schemes such as the new library and the refurbishment of New Street Station.
The magazine hit out at projects moving at a painfully slow pace and a "lack of strong leadership" at the council, themes also picked up by Estates Gazette.
But yesterday, in a letter to the editor of Building, the region's property big-hitters gave details of nine major projects which they said were progressing rapidly - including Martineau Galleries, which at #550 million will be the most expensive and largest city centre scheme since the Bullring.
The six are Rod Ackrill, chairman of Chase Midland and vice-president of the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce; Richard Probert, project director Bally-more; Steve Evans, development director Miller Developments; James Howarth, director Abstract Land; Mark Swallow, head of Birmingham office Knight Frank; Ian Fox, property director Targetfollow.
The letter detailed #8 billion of redevelopment within a one-mile radius of New Street Station.
The six wrote: "This is just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many more examples underlining that development in Birmingham is not stagnating and the energy and drive that deliver this ongoing multi-billion pound regeneration are certainly showing no sings of diminishing.
"On the contrary, the development market is vibrant."
Claims of dithering over the expansion of the city centre have infuriated lead-ers of Birmingham's Conservative-Liberal Democrat council coalition.
Council leader Mike Whitby accused the magazines of being out of touch with what was really happening in Birmingham.
Coun Whitby (Con Harborne) said: "We are just about to sell a site off Great Charles Street for a record amount of money. We were inundated with people wanting to buy that land. Investors see Birmingham as the right place for their future prosperity."
Ken Hardeman, cabinet member for regeneration, last night urged his critics to "shut up until you know the facts".
Coun Hardeman (Con Brandwood) said: "How people can say we are falling behind or we are not making things happen, I really do not know. I just don't understand it.
"Every day I am dealing with projects, some big and some small, and these things are going forward.
"Of course we can't make some of these become reality as quickly as we would like to, but look around Birmingham and see how things are changing. It is happening all around you, come with us on an exciting journey that will reshape the city centre over the next five or ten years."