Broad Street: plans revealed for night markets and UK’s biggest real ale festival

Wesside BID’s new chairman has revealed exciting plans for the future of Broad Street

Birmingham’s ‘golden mile’ is renowned for its clubs and pubs, and it could soon be hosting night markets, huge New Year’s Eve celebration events and the biggest real ale festival in the UK.

Major plans for the Broad Street area have been revealed by Gerald Manton, the new chairman of the Westside Business Improvement District (BID).

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Mr Manton has been a Westside BID director for the last three years, and has now taken over as chair from Dipesh Mistry.

His ideas for Westside’s future have been welcomed by Cllr Waseem Zaffar, the cabinet member for Transport and Environment on Birmingham City Council.

(from left) Gerald Manton, Nasim Akhtar, Mike Olley, Elaine Weir and Luisa Huggins.

Plans for night markets and UK’s biggest real ale festival

Mr Manton said: “I joined the BID board to help improve the area from a development point of view, and thanks to Dipesh’s encouragement I’ve been actively involved from the start.

“Westside is changing due to the numbers of new residential properties going up, and I strongly feel it needs a better public realm.

“For example, I want Gas Street to look different, to be all lit up and better linked with the canal, so that both people living in the area and visitors feel more comfortable.

“Night markets is another idea I’d like to pursue, as with more residential people in the area we need to add events to keep them here, spending their money with our businesses.”

Mr Manton is a real estate developer who owns and runs GNM Developments Ltd, which specialises in the residential, care homes and student accommodation sectors, and has a string of properties on Gas Street on Westside.

Photo from the Westside BID’s 2022 calendar - taken by Lili Lengkana

He had served as chair of the Solihull Round Table in recent years, and helped increase the charity’s revenues by organising more events.

He added: “One of the things Westside doesn’t yet do enough of is public events in Centenary Square, and I’d love to see us hosting a huge, annual New Year’s Eve celebration event outside Birmingham Library.

“I also think the area with its ‘golden mile’ of pubs, bars and restaurants would be ideally suited to host what could become the biggest real ale festival in the UK.

“I’ve been involved in helping the Shirley Beer Festival in the past and on Westside we could develop what might be called ‘Westoberfest’ – reflecting the tremendous success of Munich’s Oktoberfest.

“And with the Commonwealth Games coming up, I want to make sure that Westside is well promoted throughout the country, with people on public transport seeing ‘Visit Westside’ on the train, bus or trams bringing them to the city.”

Photo from the Westside BID’s 2022 calendar - taken by Lili Lengkana

What has the city council said about the plans?

Commenting on Mr Manton’s ideas, Cllr Zaffar said: “I’d like to welcome Gerald Manton to his new role as chair of Westside BID.

“He clearly has a bold inventiveness for positive change in Westside that will further energise the area, and I look forward to working closely with him and the BID team on these exciting ideas.”

Mr Manton added: “The BID is all about improving Westside for businesses, and I think we’ve got a fantastic opportunity to make that happen by working with the city council to utilise public investment.

“We need to take advantage of the increasing push towards having no cars in the city to discuss and decide which areas can be pedestrianised.

“The most valuable real estate in the area are what we call kerb line properties, and so we need to plan how we can enhance our pavements.

“There’s a talented team here at the BID, from general manager Mike Olley to his colleagues Nasim Akhtar, Elaine Weir and Luisa Huggins – plus all the enthusiastic street wardens and cleaners we employ.

“We all want to continue making the whole area a better place to both live and visit, for everyone from students to professionals, encouraging people to spend their time and money here.”

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