Landscape scheme aims to soften up business quarter

Capita Lovejoy has gone for planning permission for a £1.5m square to soften up an historic business quarter in Birmingham with an orchard and wedges of grass.

Golden Square, an L-shaped plot on a corner of Jewellery Quarter, is one of the first new projects in a five-year regeneration plan by the local authority. A series of "exposed seams" run like compass needles across the quarter, pointing towards traditional trading partners the USA, Australia and South Africa.

"These alignments shape the space and manage the topography, seating, lighting and fountains," explained Capita Lovejoy managing director Andy Williams. "The new square is divided into three key spaces - a plaza, an orchard and a promenade - which tie into the original street pattern."

He said the square, which won an international design competition last year, "will be for hanging out, meeting, resting, events, markets, speeches and exhibits".

Birmingham wants the conservation area to be designated a world heritage site. It is described by English Heritage as unique with few if any parallels in Europe.

The Jewellery Quarter is home to more than 1,500 businesses and 200 listed buildings. It produces more than 40 per cent of all the jewellery made in the UK.

Golden Square is one of the first new projects in the city council's multi-million pound Big City Plan, which aims to smarten up the city centre over the next few years.

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