The expert hired to advise on a ten-year plan to transform Birmingham city centre yesterday said his appointment was a "brave decision" by council leaders.
Professor Michael Parkinson, one of the country's lead-ing authorities on urban regeneration, promised he would not hold back from saying what he thought about Birmingham's performance as a major UK city.
He has been appointed to lead the city council's masterplanning team in drawing up a vision for the future develop-ment of 5,000 acres within the city's middle ring road.
Prof Parkinson, whose State of the English Cities study for the Government suggested that a number of European cities were economically and socially superior to their English counterparts, will analyse Birmingham's standing in detail.
Prof Parkinson, of Liverpool John Moores University, said: "I think it is a very brave step by Birmingham. They are saying let's get some people from outside to see how far we have come, where do we want to go next, and how we can do better.
"The point is that Birmingham is a significant city, a huge place. I shall, with my team, be looking at where Birmingham is. How well have we done in relation to where we were ten years ago? How well are we doing compared to Manchester, Leeds or London? How well are we doing in relation to European cities?
"There is a huge amount being achieved but are we making the most of it or are there any tricks we are missing?"
He indicated that he would look beyond the city centre to consider how redevelopment had affected the suburbs.
"The big thing we will be saying is if you look at really successful cities they need to be socially balanced. If you concentrate on only one part and leave the other bits neglected it won't work in the long run," Prof Parkinson added.
He said the first stage of his work would be to talk to as many organisations and people as possible to get a sense of the direction in which the city should travel.
He added: "We need to look at the bigger picture beyond the city centre and see how that connects in.
"Where do we want to go in the next ten or 20 years? What is possible, what is desirable and who needs to do what?"
His report is likely to high-light budgetary restrictions placed on the council by the Government, which Prof Parkinson believes hampers decision-making and economic development.
He added: "A lot of European countries give their cities more powers and resources. They trust them more and let them go and, as a result, you get enterprising people going to these cities. Government should try to control less."
He will also look at Birmingham's transportation difficulties.
"If you ask the question is a city more likely to be success-ful if it can get foods and people in and out quickly, then the answer is likely to be yes," Prof Parkinson said.
He said it was not true that all European cities were more successful than those in the UK. However, some continental cities were performing far better than their British counterparts.
He added: "The key to success is that you need to be really innovative, to find new ways to work and new ideas.
"You need a skilled work-force, a good quality of life and you need to be well connected.
"You need to think long term. A lot of the most successful European cities are doing these things."