The Archbishop of Birmingham yesterday welcomed the decision for a beatification ceremony conducted by the Pope to be held in the city, despite a council's concerns that thousands might miss out because of a change of venue.

Pope Benedict XVI was scheduled to hold the open-air service for Cardinal John Henry Newman during his UK visit in September at Coventry Airport, but it was decided to hold the service at Cofton Park in Birmingham instead.

Coventry City Council said it was "extremely surprised and disappointed" and the new plans would cause thousands of people to miss out on the event.

But Archbishop Bernard Longley, Archbishop of Birmingham, said he was delighted to welcome the pontiff and he was sure those involved would look on the visit with "undimmed enthusiasm".

The Archbishop said the decision to hold the beatification of the revered 19th century clergyman and Catholic convert in Birmingham emphasised his "long association" with the city.

He said: "Cardinal Newman lived for most of his Catholic life at the Oratory House, Edgbaston and after his death on 11 August 1890 he was buried at the Oratory Fathers' cemetery in Rednal.

"The finest recognition Cardinal Newman received was from the ordinary people of Birmingham whose lives were changed because of their contact with him, and more than 15,000 people spontaneously lined his funeral route."

The pontiff's four-day trip will begin on 16 September in Scotland.