Jewellery industry professionals are concerned for the future of Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter after as the council has announced plans to sell buildings which house many workshops.
Birmingham City Council, the buildings’ owner, has told tenants of the Jewellery Quarter workshops it intends to sell a dozen properties in the area as part of its new ‘Property Strategy’, which was approved by the cabinet last month.
The proposals are intended to bring in investment and kick-start regeneration of the area – as well as generate cash – but traders fear the council could destroy the city’s historic Jewellery Quarter if firms are forced out by future owners.
While the city council has said potential buyers of the sites should look to retain some or all of their commercial use, many businesses fear being made to move to make way for apartments.
The properties to be disposed of in the Jewellery Quarter are:
58 to 60 Caroline Street – A car park and two Grade II listed buildings containing workshops serving small jewellery firms.
18 to 23 Summer Hill – A former 27-bed hostel, now vacant, which has been touted for housing.
11 to 17 Pitsford Street – Accommodates four shops and 19 workshops opposite Warstone Lane Cemetery.
Vyse Street Triangle – A total of 51 units in the triangular parcel of land between Vyse Street, Spencer Street and Hockley Street.
The Caroline Street buildings are to be put up for sale while the other properties are to be offered on 250-year lease agreements.
Karen Murphy, whose business Jewelcast on Caroline Street is in one of the buildings being sold, told local paper Birmingham Live: “I was shocked when I received a letter from the council informing me the building would be sold with bids being submitted over the Christmas period.
“We are a very successful businesses with orders from all over the world and have just expanded within the building that is being sold. We employ 28 people. All I’ve been told is that the existing lease will have to be honoured by any new owner but that doesn’t give us the long-term certainty a business needs.”
“I am very worried about it,” says jewellery repair shop owner William Rose talking to the BBC. “We have all been here for quite a number of years. They are driving us out to turn them into apartments. Where do we go?”
Working on behalf of the trade, the National Association of Jewellers is lobbying to preserve Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter from developers.
The NAJ has already written to the council and will soon be meeting with representatives.
Any professionals looking to share their concerns should contact the NAJ this side of Christmas.