A Birmingham regeneration project could be in line for a major Government award after it was commended following a site visit by urban renewal experts.

Optima Community Association's £350 million regeneration of the Attwood Green estate has made it to the final four of the Deputy Prime Minister's Award for Sustainable Communities.

The project was up against 200 other entries in the competition, which recognises outstanding achievement in turning run-down areas into desirable places to live.

Optima was formed in June 1999 to create a mixed-tenure, socially inclusive and vibrant community at Attwood Green, which is one of the largest regeneration schemes in the UK.

The housing association's chief executive Simon Kimberley said: "We're delighted that the achievements at Attwood Green have been recognised at the highest level of Government.

"Residents have been at the heart of this ground-breaking project that has become a model of regeneration which is being replicated, not only in Birmingham, but across the UK."

The project was subjected to intense scrutiny by the award panel, which was made up of representatives from the British Urban Regeneration Association.

They met residents, staff and partner agencies during two visits to Attwood Green and then submitted their findings to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, which drew up the final shortlist.

The panel described Optima's project as "the epitome of innovation and high quality" and "an excellent example of how to turn an area around".

Optima was also praised for engaging the community, improving the local environment and "seeking to end distinctions in the quality of sale homes and those for social housing".

The project is up against schemes in Gloucestershire, Leicester and Kent for the award, which will be announced at the Local Government Association's Delivering Sustainable Communities Conference in Birmingham on February 14.

The Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, said: "These four projects really stand out for successfully involving local people and businesses in regenerating areas into well designed safe environments with excellent public spaces and access to services.

"All of those things that bring people together creating thriving sustainable communities."