‘The centre will offer a leading visitor’s destination, provide an industry-led establishment, yield training and open workshops to influence the education and appreciation surrounding jewellery manufacturing, as well as a wider understanding for British and worldwide gemstones’.
Do these words sound familiar to you? Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter – “Internationally regarded as a centre of excellence in the manufacture and trade of jewellery,” has discussed such a centre for the past 25 or so years, but no plans have come to fruition, even though there were some plans drawn up and approved in principal many years ago.
The idea first came from URBED in the 1990s and then brought forward by subsequent regeneration partnerships via Jewellery Quarter Charters etc, all to no avail, although London does have a superb ‘Centre of Excellence’ leaving the Jewellery Quarter out in the cold.
Venues envisaged for a Jewellery Quarter Centre of Excellence have now been taken up by other developments and if we are to find a suitable venue we need to give this matter some priority.
The Big City Masterplan is quoted as saying: ‘The masterplan envisages the Jewellery Quarter as a living industrial quarter, with the preservation of its unique historic character as a key element of its future success in attracting more tourism and recreational visits. Whilst the quarter has all the qualities to make it one of the city centres most authentic and liveable areas we will address a number of key issues in order for it to fulfil its potential. This will include:
- Lack of public spaces beyond St Paul’s Square;
- Poor connections with the City Core;
- The long standing vacant and under-used sites along key main corridors;
- Supporting small jewellery design, manufacturing and creative businesses and adding further economic activity;
- Managing development pressures while enhancing the qualities of the historic environment’.
Sounds like the creation of a ‘Jewellery Quarter Trade Centre – a Centre of Excellence’ should be brought back to the table as it ticks many of the Big City Plan issues for the Jewellery Quarter.