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Support collapses for Birmingham's vast Eastside regeneration

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One of the groups created to advise Birmingham City Council on its massive Eastside regeneration initiative has, in a shock move, turned on the development programme.

The Eastside Community Group, an offshoot of the Eastside Sustainability Advisory Group, has attacked the way its backers have handled the vast scheme.

One of the chief critics is Joe Holyoak, a local architect and a long-standing observer of Birmingham's architecture scene.

This is one of the first times that the Eastside scheme, which is masterplanned by LDA, has courted controversy - until recently it was notable for the unanimous support behind it.

But Holyoak and his group have become increasingly angry at the way that Compulsory Purchase Orders are forcing out local businesses and residents.

'It has all gone very well until a month or two ago - I'm not sure why but it seems to have gone downhill since then,' he said.

He pointed to one aged resident who is facing a CPO even though his house is not being demolished under LDA's plans.

In addition there is a pub, a long-established Spanish restaurant, an even longer-established Italian café and several other businesses which are all being forced out.

'Truly sustainable development includes the protection of the interests of existing residents and businesses who have shaped, and contributed to, the area's identity and economy,' Holyoak went on.

'These occupants should be the foundation on which a diverse and prosperous community can be built. They should benefit from its growth,' he added.

'Instead, in Eastside, they are intended to be not the beneficiaries of growth, but its victims.'

But Mark Alexander of Advantage West Midlands, which is one of the partners running the Eastside regeneration, defended the latest moves.

'We are really hoping to develop and regenerate 15 acres - this is a major development,' he said.

'All we are trying to do is deliver a serious project for the benefit of the city that will help to make it internationally competitive, Alexander added.

by Ed Dorrell

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