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Our Say.

OLDER readers will remember with regret the bulldozer-mad days after the Second World War when many of Birmingham's best loved buildings were flattened in the name of progress.

It was not all bad, of course. Many of the properties that were demolished were slum houses or ramshackle shops, factories and offices.

They were ugly to look at, a nightmare to live or work in and would have cost a fortune to repair or improve. Good riddance.

And it is true, too, some iconic buildings were erected in their place - the Rotunda, for instance.

But many of the landmarks that disappeared would today have been protected against redevelopment. And quite right, too. They were the kind of places that define a city by creating a special atmosphere.

The trick is, of course, to balance the old and the new.

It is as damaging to stand blindly in the way of progress as it is to unthinkingly allow our heritage to crash around our ears. Twenty-first century Birmingham seems to have learned the lesson and today there are two examples of how the old and modern are being blended, with the public and private sectors both playing a part.

First comes the news that the attractive, historic 1930s Odeon cinemas in Sutton Coldfield and Quinton have been saved by a Dublin-based company.

Then comes the news that planners have relaxed their own development rules to approve The Cube, an iconic pounds 100 million building near The Mailbox.

A vibrant, ambitious city like Birmingham must regenerate itself, but at the same time cherish those things that make it unique.

Happily, that seems to be happening.

Brum's motto is "Forward" - but sometimes it is essential to take a glance back, too
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Title Annotation:Comment
Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Dec 3, 2005
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