Bombay Bicycle Club at St. Paul’s

As part of a small intimate tour, Bombay Bicycle Club are performing an acoustic gig at St. Paul's Church in the Jewellery Quarter tomorrow night. Doubtless much if not all of the set will feature tracks from their new album "Flaws", released on Monday.

Unfortunately the gig is sold out!

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Policing the Jewellery Quarter

The local Neighbourhood Policing team have recorded a video to update residents and businesses of the Jewellery Quarter on their priorities and recent action.

This video report is a positive step in the right direction, opening up lines of communications between the police and residents.

I'm especially pleased to see the action taken on traffic and in particular one-way streets. Those living in the Jewellery Quarter and readers of my last FOCUS will know it's a big issue around here. There's still plenty of work to do in this area, but it's good to know a start has been made.

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Planning Application – Tesco Superstore

Site for proposed new Tesco storeTesco has submitted plans for a new superstore on the edge of Birmingham City Centre, within walking distance of the Jewellery Quarter and much of Ladywood.

The land, bounded by Camden Street, Icknield Street and Spring Hill, has been derelict since 2002 when the former Brookfield shopping precinct was demolished. It had long suffered from a lack of tenants and vandalism. Tesco have owned the land for some time so an application has been expected.

But the application is for more than just a Tesco!

The existing Spring Hill Library is sympathetically blended into the development, benefitting from a new glazed entrance and external lift. There will also be four smaller retail units facing Spring Hill with office space above, a small number of maisonettes on the Brookfields side of the development and undercroft car parking.

I'm cautious of new supermarket developments and the impact they can have on local businesses. However in this case I think the development will benefit surrounding businesses - and help provide new jobs in the constituency with the highest unemployment in the UK.


Planning Application – Jewellery Quarter Hotel

Ashfield Motors - Jewellery Quarter

A planning application has been submitted for a new hotel on the former Ashfield Motors site (above) in the Jewellery Quarter. A four-storey office block was approved for the land, on the corner of Caroline Street and Northwood Street, in 2008 and these plans are broadly similar. The hotel would also be four-storeys with the same overall height as the originally planned office block.

You can view the detailed plans on the City Council's Planning Online tool (2009/05947/PA) and you have until 7th January to submit comments.

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Happy 100th Birthday to the Old Fire Station!

The Old Fire Station - Jewellery Quarter
The Old Fire Station - Jewellery Quarter

The Old Fire Station - Jewellery QuarterThis afternoon I stopped by the Old Fire Station on Albion Street for a ceremony to mark its 100th birthday.

The centenary celebrations were organised by the Jewellery Quarter Neighbourhood Forum with help from the History group of the West Midlands Fire Service and the owner of the building, which is now predominantly a nursery school.

Children from the nursery came outside to meet the firemen and take part in the celebrations. Simon Phillips from the Neighbourhood Forum gave a short speech before 100 red balloons were released to mark the centenary. TNT News were also on hand to film the day so watch out for their report soon!

A few of us also got to see inside the courtyard. Once home to firemen and their families, the buildings are now home to numerous creative and media businesses.

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Christmas at St. Paul’s

St. Paul's Church in the Jewellery Quarter opens its doors for a number of Christmas concerts this month.

On the lunchtime of Tuesday 15th there will be community carols, followed by a service of nine lessons and carols with the Birmingham Bach Choir on Sunday 20th.

The church will also be open for midnight mass on Christmas Eve from 11.30pm and a Christmas Day service at 10am.

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Jewellery Quarter – November Update

It's been a busy few weeks for me and I've fallen behind with my blogging, so here are some of the things I missed from around the Jewellery Quarter:

Shout Festival projection on to Big Peg
  • As part of Birmingham's SHOUT Festival, 30 LGBT artists from around the world saw their work projected on to The Big Peg (image above!). The Birmingham Queer Open drew entries from around the globe and selected artists represented countries as diverse as Canada, USA, Russia, Israel and Italy.

  • The Jewellery Quarter’s farmers market, 24 Carrots, continues to do well. The Christmas special market takes place on Saturday 5th December.

  • An invite-only stakeholder consultation day for the Jewellery Quarter’s “Golden Square” will take place on Tuesday 15th December.

  • You can view the latest proposals for Albion Square here.

  • The Vaults on Newhall Hill slipped into administration but it is hoped a buyer will be found.

  • Last week the Jewellery Quarter’s themed Christmas lights were switched on and as is now custom, a three-legged Santa Race took place! MyJQ captured the fun on video:


Jewellery Quarter – Slum of Tomorrow?

Some of the Jewellery Quarter apartmentsI’m very disappointed at Conservative City Cabinet member for Housing John Lines’ comments that Jewellery Quarter apartments are the “slums of tomorrow”.

I think it’s clear to all that some developers are struggling to sell all their units, while some are struggling to even finish building them. Some have apparently approached the Council hoping to do a deal to make them available to Council tenants – but Councillor Lines has said no.

I strongly disagree with his view that these apartments are “not good enough for our people”. Whilst I agree they are not necessarily suitable for families, that doesn’t mean that individuals or young couples wouldn't be perfectly happy living in them.

I live in the Jewellery Quarter and I am not alone in being insulted by Cllr Lines’ comments. The Jewellery Quarter has a fantastic community spirit thanks to the incredible work of the Jewellery Quarter Neighbourhood Forum and its partnership working with others including the Regeneration Partnership, JQ Association and others. Branding its potential future in this way will not help future investment or the bid for World Heritage Status at all.

Of course, high quality family homes should be built across the city and I am pleased with the progress being made in that regard. But we should not ignore housing stock that is available now – and that includes apartments. In the middle of a recession we need to find sensible, good value solutions to all our problems.

What we must do though, is ensure any future developments are put through a thorough planning process that scrutinises the quality alongside current demand and potential future demand - before planning permission is given for any more apartments.


ArtsFest 2009 – Sunday in the Jewellery Quarter

As on Saturday, the Jewellery Quarter throws open its doors with open days at Key Hill Cemetery, the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter, St. Paul's Church, St. Paul's Gallery, the Pen Room and the RBSA. In addition, check out the following...

Key Hill Cemetery
Looking at those buried in the cemetery from Birmingham's past including the Bird family, Joseph Chamberlain and Robert Lucas Chance.

RBSA 2nd Floor Gallery

St. Paul's Gallery
Intelligent indie pop.


ArtsFest 2009 – Saturday in the Jewellery Quarter

ArtsFest continues its weekend in the Jewellery Quarter, combining with Heritage Open Day Weekend events. The Museum of the Jewellery Quarter is open for tours, you can see work from Birmingham's contemporary artists at the RBSA Open Exhibition, visit The Pen Room, or have a wander around St Paul's Church and enjoy a BBQ!. Plus don't miss the latest work from Stan's Cafe at the A.E. Harris factory - "Giant Steps".

Key Hill Cemetery
Looking at those buried in the cemetery from Birmingham's past including the Bird family, Joseph Chamberlain and Robert Lucas Chance.

Key Hill Cemetery
The Hamlet Globetrotters. Comedy sketches based on Shakespeare.

St. Paul's Church
Brazilian-style Samba music.

St. Paul's Gallery
Indie pop: imagine Elvis Costello writing for ELO fronted by James Dean Bradfield's younger siblings!