Work has started on a youth project which will give thousands of youngsters in east Birmingham an opportunity to develop much-needed skills.

A ceremony celebrating the launch of the Shard End Community Building Project took place yesterday as construction workers began digging out the basement.

The project, which is backed by Prince Charles, involves Shard End youngsters designing and building their own £3.5 million training and development centre.

The Prince's Foundation for the Built Environment developed the idea four years ago and Prince Charles came to Birmingham to launch the project in 2003.

The centre will include a basement with music, dance, drama and recording facilities, a 'den' area to provide a safe, positive recreation zone, a cyber cafe and training and meeting room facilities.

Local councillor Ian Ward (Lab Shard End) said: "This project will help develop the talent of local people in what is a much forgotten, deprived outer-city area.

"It will become a valuable resource and will help to engage with young people."