Birmingham's bid to become "the creative writing capital of Britain" moved a step closer yesterday after a base for the National Academy of Writing was finally announced.
The project has been dogged by setbacks since it was unveiled at the start of 2001 by its president, writer and broadcaster Lord Melvyn Bragg.
Earlier this year, The Birmingham Post revealed how the centre, backed by some of the country's leading authors, had pulled out of the city all together due to lack of support in finding a home.
Yesterday, however, organisers revealed a deal had been struck with the University of Central England that will see courses begin in January
Mary Martin, the university's pro vice-chancellor, said: "This significant partnership between our two organisations aims to bring on the next generation of top novelists, poets and playwrights and help the city move a step closer to becoming the creative writing capital of Britain."
The plans are a watered down version of the original vision of full time study for 50 students, offering instead part time study for about 20.
However organisers hope demand will increase as word-of-mouth spreads and the one- year graduate diploma gains a reputation.
A campaign to recruit a "high profile writer" to the post of "writing fellow" to lead the academy will begin in January. It will be be based in the university's School of English. The academy is the brainchild of The Society of Authors and aims to give people with talent vocational writing skills regardless of academic qualifications.
An impressive list of 100 patrons includes novelists Nick Hornby, Ian Rankin, Iain Bank, Roddy Doyle and Doris Lessing and Birminghamborn poet Benjamin Zephaniah.
An original launch at UCE faltered after a year after the space was withdrawn.
At the beginning of 2003, the academy gained a reprieve after its plight was highlighted by The Birmingham Post and Britain's largest private estate, Calthorpe, donated rent-free space in Calthorpe House, Five Ways.
But a discontinuation of £100,000 funding from the Birmingham Learning and Skills Council last year left it struggling to survive.