ArtsFest 2009 – Friday in the Jewellery Quarter

ArtsFest comes to the Jewellery Quarter this weekend, kicking off on Friday.

A E Harris Factory
Birmingham's internationally recognised theatre company, Stan's Café, present their new installation: do-it-yourself family theatre.

St. Paul's Church
Featuring A Capella Birmingham Chamber Choir and members of Instant Opera.


JQ Promotion Opportunity for Social Enterprises

According to a letter posted by Spaghetti Gazetti, the foyer space of the Big Peg in the Jewellery Quarter is to be used to promote local social enterprises - for free.

"Just by way of context, 'exhibitors' so far have included a premium chocolatier and a paint-balling company, both of which were actually selling on the days they were here. The space will accommodate a good sized (6ft-plus) table and exhibition stands. There is a fair amount of through traffic (tenants and visitors)."

For those unaware, the Big Peg is an office block for mainly creative businesses towering over much of the Jewellery Quarter on the corner of Warstone Lane and Vyse Street. It is the sister development of the Custard Factory and also houses a police station and a post office.


Work Underway at St Georges

Future site of the Kettleworks in the Jewellery Quarter

Work is underway on the new St Georges development on the fringes of the Jewellery Quarter. The mixed use development covering 2.75 hectares will be built in 5 phases, eventually resulting in new office space, apartments, retail, bars, restaurants and 2 new hotels. It will be built around the Icknield Street, Carver Street and Pope Street area, which is mostly composed of vacant warehouse and factory buildings.

Preparatory work has started on the first phase, The Kettleworks, which will provide 236,176 sq ft of office space and a multi-storey car park. The first phase should be complete by late next year.

I'm very keen on this development not only for the job creation, but also because it opens out the Jewellery Quarter and creates a new gateway on the Ladywood side - something desperately needed.

There are still a number of developments - "The Quarter" on Warstone Lane and the Birmingham Mint - where work has stalled. Hopefully St Georges will not suffer a similar fate.


Mechu License Restricted

Mechu Summer Row

Mechu on Summer Row has had its license restricted by the Council following a license review brought about by a resident of Islington Gates. The venue will now only be able to serve alcohol until 1am (Sun-Thurs) or 2am (Fri & Sat), with the venue able to stay open for an additional hour. The license had previously allowed Mechu to stay open until 4am.

From the minutes of the meeting: "The Sub-Committee's reasons for imposing these conditions are due to concerns by local residents in relation to noise nuisance and antisocial behaviour."

I wrote some time ago about the noise problems (from people and taxis) suffered by local residents. There were numerous other conditions emposed by the review, including specific taxi instructions and the fitting of a noise limiter at the premises. I'd be interested to know at what level this will be set.

The owners of Mechu have 21 days to appeal.

Click these links to read more about licensing and planning issues in Ladywood ward.


Former TRMNL Building Available

The Hockley Street premises formerly occupied by the TRMNL nightclub is now available for lease from commercial property agency Fleurets.

It's interesting to note the board advertises the premises as a "bar/restaurant", not as a building suitable for a nightclub!

I'll keep a close eye on what happens with this building and if any planning or licensing applications are submitted, I'll do my best to keep all local residents that were affected by TRMNL updated.

The previous tenants did restore much of the inside of this building and I'm keen to see it put to good use. Any budding entrepreneurs considering opening a bar/restaurant could do a lot worse than consider this building!


Nightclub License Application Declined

The premises license application for 89-91 Livery Street has been thrown out by Birmingham City Council. I wrote to residents last month informing them of the application as I was not happy with the signage advertising the application. A large number responded to the Council which led to the application being refused on the grounds of public nuisance. Environmental Health also raised concerns on the impact of the Youth Hostel next door.

Livery Street

Catch-Up From The Capital

Blogging has been non-existent this week as I'm down in the big smoke for a few days. People need to smile more in this city.

Here's a round-up of what's been going on back in Birmingham:

  • Soldiers from Birmingham and the West Midlands will be welcomed home today with a march through the city centre. A one-minute silence will be observed and I will be joining in from 100 miles away.
  • The "Gym For Free" scheme, so successful in its trial across Ladywood, looks set to be rolled out across the city.
  • Jewellery Quarter based company Life has developed the brand concept “WorldF3rst” for the Formula 3 vehicle developed by Warwick Innovative Manufacturing Research Centre.
  • Birmingham's Chief of Regeneration Clive Dutton has left the city for the London Borough of Newham, managing the transformation of the area due to the 2012 Olympics.
  • The City Council is taking advice on hitting tough CO2 targets from environmental guru Jonathon Porritt

There's also plenty of talk about the proposed UK City of Culture bid on which I have very strong views, so will blog about that separately.


Objections Received to Livery Street Nightclub Plans

Following my letter to all nearby residents, the Council has received a large number of objections to the license application for a late night venue at 89-91 livery Street.

The case will be heard by Licensing Sub-Committee B on Tuesday 21st July at the Council House.


Brum’s Best Budget Eateries

Media coverage of Birmingham this week focuses on food in anticipation of this weekend's Taste of Birmingham festival over at Cannon Hill Park, which starts tomorrow. Today’s Guardian features a list of Brum’s Top 10 Budget Eateries, with some of my personal favourites making the cut. My local The Lord Clifden, the Bullring’s Urban Pie and the Friends of the Earth Warehouse Café in Digbeth all feature.

Also on the list is Ladywood's very own Great British Eatery, which I blogged about last weekend.


Bucklemaker Goes Bust

The Bucklemaker shuts its doorsIt's very sad to hear the Bucklemaker on St. Paul's Square has fallen into liquidation.

The Bucklemaker was highly regarded and specialised in fish dishes.

I now worry for some of the Jewellery Quarter's other top restaurants such as Lasan and Pasta di Piazza - although the latter was still bustling the last time I visited a few weeks ago.

It's especially sad when you read the report by the Birmingham Post's food critic Richard McComb, who went to meet the man behind the Bucklemaker, Nick Crudgington.

A major issue will be the settlement of The Bucklemaker’s lease, for which Crudgington said he is personally liable. He renewed the tenancy five years ago – and it has another 20 to run. At the time, the business was doing well – “Ticking over nicely” – but the economic climate has changed dramatically. Referring to the global recession, Crudgington added: “Who foresaw this? I didn’t.”

Looking around the basement bar and restaurant, he said: “The market has dropped right away. I was in here at 1 o’clock yesterday lunchtime and it was empty. There wasn’t anybody in. It was the first time that has happened in 20 years. I have been very worried for the past months but that was the final straw.”

I don't see any evidence of "green shoots" of recovery here.