Departing city council regeneration boss Clive Dutton had to give only three months’ notice under his contract of employment and could leave Birmingham to take up a top position in London before the end of September, it was confirmed yesterday.

The short notice period means that Mr Dutton may have cleared his desk and departed less than 12 weeks after the announcement that he is to spearhead Newham Borough’s regeneration efforts off the back of the 2012 Olympic Games.

He is currently in negotiations about an exact leaving date, but a council spokesman said Mr Dutton hoped to go before October.

Faced by the impossibility of recruiting a suitably-qualified replacement in time, city council chief executive Stephen Hughes is to step in and take personal responsibility for overseeing regeneration in Birmingham until the post can be filled.

The requirement to give only three months’ notice is in stark contrast to executive positions in the private sector, where six months or 12 months is usual.

Top Birmingham employment lawyer Fergal Dowling said it was highly unlikely that Mr Dutton, were he employed in a similar position in the private sector, would have been able to negotiate a three-month notice period.

Mr Dowling, a partner at Irwin Mitchell, added: “It would be very unusual for a senior director in the private sector to have a three-month notice period.

“Depending on the size of the business and the importance of the individual concerned, you would normally be on six months or a year.”

Regarded as one of the most senior council officials, Mr Dutton has a position roughly equivalent to a director of a plc.

He is responsible for overseeing a £70 million revenue budget and for driving forward £26 million of capital projects this year.

He has been at the forefront of delivering major schemes including the refurbishment of New Street Station and the new city library.

Mr Hughes, in addition to his many other responsibilities, will be under pressure to make sure several big schemes, including the £60 million Olympic swimming pool, progress according to plan.

His temporary appointment in charge of regeneration was questioned by opposition Labour leader Sir Albert Bore, who said: “Clive Dutton will be a big loss to Birmingham, there is no doubt about that.

“We need to move quickly to fill the vacancy and we cannot have a long period where the chief executive is carrying out this role on top of his other duties.”

The council said: “We have already begun the process of seeking to recruit a new director to lead the city’s regeneration and development directorate.

“We are determined to identify a top-class individual of the very highest calibre as soon as possible, to drive through Birmingham’s groundbreaking regeneration programme.

“In the interim period the chief executive of the council will be taking personal responsibility for managing the department and ensuring the continued delivery of all its work and projects.”