Category Archives: Digbeth

One single vision – Where next for Birmingham

With the departure of Clive Dutton, who has been so instrumental in securing the future of the city, thoughts turn to ‘what do we do next?’.

Do we carry on as we are, or do we introspect a bit and refine our strategy? These are tough questions and it proves what we should already know; town planning is not easy.
custard_factory
Our glorious leader, Anthony Tattum, said so eloquently in the Birmingham Post‘s ‘Pen Portrait’ (Sorry Alun) that Birmingham ‘needs a single vision’. I didn’t know he harboured this opinion until I read it in the paper, and I have to say I agree.

There is a relentless tug-of-war between seperate sectors on how the future of the city should look and feel.

One side would prefer to capitalise on Birmingham’s burgeoning creative industry and Digbeth based online innovation, whilst the other side would rather a more urbane, modern chic. See it as BrindleyPlace versus The Custard Factory.
brindly place
But here is the problem, it is difficult to achieve both and I can’t see the council favouring post-industrial developments such as Fazeley Studios over slick new builds like The Library and New Street Station.

Is there a middle ground or should we develop Digbeth and Eastside in the creative mould whilst cleaning up the city centre with modern designs?

Personally I think the creative industries are the future of this city and it gives a unique selling point; it would make sense to invest in these areas.

The only thing we do know is that we need to pick a direction and run in it.

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Filed under Big Business, Big Cat Group, Digbeth, Eastside

Big City Plan needs a Big City Philosophy

I, and many others, attended the Big City Plan meeting at the Council House last night to hear about the Council’s and the public’s ideas for the City. Before I go any further, I think it is worth mentioning that allowing citizens the chance to influence how their city should grow is a very encouraging thing for the Council to practise.

After Philip Singleton’s talk about the City Plan, the great unhosed mob of civvies filed into their groups to discuss problems and solutions while staff wrote down all the thoughts culminating in 3 main points that would presented back to the council.

To give my own point a plug, I feel strongly that physical communications must be set up between the BullRing and The Custard Factory because if you didn’t know what was down in Digbeth you would never go down, simply because the adjoining walk is not a particularly inviting one.

But by far the best idea, I thought, came from John Mostyn (or at least his team) that the Big City Plan needs a philosophy that we can then act upon. One of the problems Birmingham has had in its regeneration is a lack of cohesion and common thread between the seperate areas of regeneration as well as a lack of sympathy with the culture of independent marketers and establishments. Personally, I think the city should base its philosophy around the independent creative community creating visual arts centres and helping the community have a national platform to show off the city’s talent. On a slightly bigger scale, I also think a international landmark would be a great way to turns eyes on to Birmingham.

Once a philosophy is agreed upon, it would become significantly easier to decide on architecture, angle, what people to target for population growth, amenities and cultural hotspots. Lets hope Mike Whitby and his crew don’t let us down at the final hurdle by ignoring his citizens, particularly with regards to the Big City Philosophy.

Big hello to everyone who attended by the way.

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Filed under Big Business, Big Cat Group, Big Cat Social, Digbeth

Birmingham’s young and talented to showcase creativity!

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Please welcome the first post from our esteemed fashion correspondent, Natalie Hartland.

I was recently reading a blog on the Midlands Young Fashion Designer Awards returning for its second year, what a great opportunity for talent hailing from the midlands to showcase what amazing talent they have.

Birmingham has the basis to becoming the most stylish city, with fashion students coming from London to Birmingham to study fashion, but what is there to keep them here?

With a string of big name chains taking over the majority of Birmingham’s shopping centre and high streets, what is the future for Birmingham’s young fashion designer? I fear the answer is a train ticket to the big smoke to join the battle of young fashion house wannabes, competing for a job in one of the big names that consume every square inch of Birmingham’s retail district.

Thankfully this problem hasn’t gone unnoticed with the Big City Plan commenting on the city’s ‘bland’ collection of shops, with most being big name stores which are consistent with every other town and city across the country – hopefully this means something will be done about it!!

Does anyone remember Covet? A cool independent store supplying Topshop Bullring with its vintage collection, the little gem that was hidden deep within the Custard Factory sadly passed away, as did the Topshop vintage collection! More stores like this would allow our young designers a promising chance to not only show case or sell their collections but to start their career without leaving their hometown.

What Birmingham is in desperate need of is unique independent stores such as Cow – the big yellow vintage store on Digbeth high street, more stores like this will give the city individuality and style it needs.

Im glad to see that this problem is being taken into consideration within the Big City Plan, with even Clive Dutton backing it in the hope Birmingham’s shops will help Brum in the race to become one of the top 20 livable cities in the world!!

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Filed under Big Cat Social, Big Questions, Digbeth, Eastside