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28 October 2014
Inside Out: Surprising Stories, Familiar Places

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   Inside Out - West Midlands: Friday February 16, 2007
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City development
"If it hadn't been for investors, then Birmingham city centre wouldn't have regenerated to the extent that it has."
Manjit Deol
Putting the living back into our city centres

City Apartments

City and town centres across the West Midlands are being transformed.

Former no-go zones are being regenerated, and slums are being replaced with swanky new apartments.

But these trendy city centre pads only suit the lifestyle and budget of a few people, mainly singles and professionals.

Traditional homes for families or the less well-off are being pushed out of city centres.

Inside Out asks whether these new developments are good for our cities.

City living

Sam Jones, an interior designer, has snapped up a two bedroom apartment in Birmingham's city centre.

She has a view over the canal, and shopping and nightlife on her doorstep.

Young and single, the lifestyle suits her perfectly.

Sam Jones
Sam Jones and her apartment designed for city living

"I couldn't imagine life anywhere else.

"I think as singletons we bring a lot of vibrancy and fun to the city.

"We use the bars, we go and spend our money in them, and our friends come and visit us from outside the city."

The problem is that as more and more properties are built to suit people like Sam, others are bound to be squeezed out.

Monoculture?

Dick Pratt, an academic and town planner, warns of a growing mono-culture.

"It can be a single class society, a centre of singletons, of the affluent, the upwardly mobile - people who've made it and are making it.

"But it's not inclusive enough - a ghetto if you like, in reverse. The new flats need to be managed.

"They need to be blended into other types of development which reflect balanced communities."

Flat interior
City living has fuelled the building boom

Developer Manjit Deol is one of the investors fuelling the transformation - he's even bought up entire floors in Birmingham's Rotunda.

He's cashing in on the demand for new flats, and there's no shortage of buyers.

So how does he think the building boom is affecting life in the city?

"If it hadn't been for investors, then Birmingham city centre wouldn't have regenerated to the extent that it has.

"When we invest in the apartments, the apartments are rented by tenants, and the tenants are relocating to Birmingham from different parts of the country.

"That in itself has created capital for the city to be able to do things."

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Thatcher's Aide

Lady Thatcher remains Britain's longest serving Prime Minister.

Throughout all her years at No. 10 another woman stood at her side - Cynthia Crawford from Worcester.

The former PM's aide, personal assistant, and closest friend now takes Inside Out into the dramatic and personal world of those years; from the Falklands war and the Brighton bomb, to the sudden departure from office.

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Internet Film-makers

It's tough breaking into the movie business.

A funding shortage and fierce competition can mean the decision to make a film is often an expensive gamble.

But the rise of the internet, with ever-faster download times and widening bandwidths, means budding filmmakers now have a low-cost way of reaching a large audience.

Inside Out meets the would-be directors making the most of the new technology.

You can submit your films for web release at the Creative Channel

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  • UK Film Council
  • Creative Channel

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