Grade A Listed Glynne Edwards (Acocks Green Baptist) Hall Under Threat

February 5th, 2011

Need the Stockfield/Baptist Glynn Edwards Hall  questionnaire  in a hurry?  The downloadable questionnaire is  here For why you should complete it, please read on below.

The Glyn Edwards Hall (Acocks Green Baptist Hall) 1924 Locally Listed Grade A (Side Elevation – Alexander Road)

Many Acocks Green residents have expressed horror at the present proposal put forward jointly by Acocks Green Baptist Church and Stockfield Community Association to demolish the much loved 1924, locally Grade A listed,  Glyn Edwards Hall at the corner of  Yardley Road and Alexander Road, Acocks Green.  (You can read more about local listing, and this building here.) The current proposal (we understand shortly to be put forward to Birmingham City Council Planning Department) is to demolish the hall and to replace with the design below.

The Glyn Edwards (Baptist) Church Hall Design Proposal – Artist’s Impression

Below  is the present Glyn Edwards Hall, front elevation,  from Yardley Road, and the proposed Stockfield/Baptist design compared.

Double clicking will enlarge for clarity (Please ignore apparent grained effect on roof – a trick of the light.)

The present Glyn Edwards Hall is a distinctive Arts and Crafts Building with unusual roof features in keeping with the Arts and Crafts style where roofs are often an important part of the design.    See below for detail (Note, any of these pictures can be double clicked to enlarge.)

Glyn Edwards Hall – Detail

It is not hard to see why The Glyn Edwards Hall was awarded its Grade A status.  It  also has some striking brickwork patterns, see below:

Glyn Edwards Hall – Detail (Double click to enlarge)

The replacement building is a plain and featureless  seventies style  building with a large flat expanse of plate glass.   It has limited features of any kind and is not, in any way, in keeping with the surrounding buildings in this area.  It would jar  badly with its mainly Edwardian and nineteen-twenties surroundings in this part of Acocks Green.    Local people have already described it as a plate glass shed.

So why do Acocks Green Baptists and Stockfield Community Association want to dispose of this charming and welcoming looking building and replace it with such a bleak, souless, monstrosity?  Their rationale seems to be as follows.  We reproduce it as best as we can:

The new building would be (we quote) more ‘useful’.  The plan for the new building involves dividing it into sections – see paper plan below, followed by three dimensional model:

The Stockfield/Baptist Paper Plan for the Glyn Edwards – note double clicking will enlarge to give good clarity

This plan shows the proposed new layout, with a range of small rooms inside, to be used for different purposes.  These would replace the present large village hall style room inside, which is currently popular with local groups for meetings.  (Acocks Green lacks a parish hall.)

(Note the present Baptist buildings complex also includes 2A Alexander Road.  [Shaded pink on the plan above.]  This is the original Baptist caretaker’s house.  It is currently partly used as office space, with one flat above.  It is next to the Glyn Edwards on Alexander Road.  Next to 2A, on Alexander Road,  is the Arthur Moore Hall.  [Shaded green on the plan above.] This is the other Acocks Green Baptist Hall [here are two.] built 1903.  Next to the Glyn Edwards Hall on the Yardley Road is the Baptist Church itself  [Shaded beige on the plan above.] This is part pictured in the present and proposed front elevation pictures.)

Below is the same idea in 3D, but showing, also, how the upstairs space would be used.

Stockfield/Baptist Proposal for Glyn Edwards Hall (3D Model) Double click to enlarge for clarity.

The theory is clearly that a several smaller rooms would be more ‘useful’.  We are unclear about how far this theory has been tested in practice.  At a meeting about two years ago local residents involved in community work were invited to give their opinions on what would be appropriate for their needs.  At this time it was being suggested that the new facilities, already being discussed, would be designed with the needs of all residents this side of Acocks Green.  The five delegates who were not from the Baptist Church or from the Stockfield Estate did not express a strong preference for this type of division into smaller rooms, at that time, and  concerns are now being expressed that the loss of the larger hall could mean the loss of the most popular facility of this kind in the area.   There is a meeting room currently available to local groups  at 2A Alexander Road, but it would appear that, apart from Stockfield Community Association and the Baptist Church ,there is only limited use of this facility by other local residents’ groups.  It seems unclear why three small meeting rooms are now required upstairs.

This much said, we accept that if Stockfield and the Baptists can make better use of the space than is being made at present then there is an argument for changing the space arrangements inside th building.  However, what remains disturbing about the design,  even if such a division of space inside the building can be demonstrated to be ‘useful’ is the complete demolition of the building – why not simply adapt and build onto the existing one?  Much of the new design rationale seems, on further questioning, to centre on a perceived need for more light  (though the building seems already quite light enough in the daytime for most tastes) and an idea that the building would be more ‘welcoming’ if passers by could see inside it.   However, no-one we have spoken to,  finds this design ‘welcoming’.  Instead, people have been shocked by the cold, uncaring, atttitude  involved in removing, for ever, an attractive building from the local landscape, and imposing, instead, such an ugly building as this upon the community  here which contains many people who care passionately about their surroundings.   In addition, as a number of people have pointed out, plate glass windows can bring problems of their own.  They limit privacy, can make people inside a building feel uneasy and, moreover,  people have quoted local experiences in which such a large expanse of glass  has attracted unwelcome attention from bored local teenagers, eg banging on the glass.  This can be very unnerving for people trying to conduct an activity inside the building.

Finally, one of us was told ‘Well it’s our building.’  Well, yes.  It is.   This makes us sadder than anything else.  Over the years, local campaigners have heard this, final, somewhat aggressive statement many times.  Generally it comes from insensitive property developers:  ‘It is my building.  It is nothing to do with you.  I can do what I like. ‘ We would have hoped that two locally well respected organisations like Acocks Green Baptist Church and Stockfield Community Association: both organisations we have worked with before, and organisations who do much good locally, would have shown greater awareness of the feelings of the residents of Acocks Green.  Demolishing  The Glyn Edwards Hall would bring division and pain to this part of Acocks Green.   It will not be a happy outcome for anyone if these two organisations end up coming face to face with other local residents’ groups across the  Planning Committee Room floor in a wrangle over the planning proposal set out here,  and we are still hoping to avoid this.

We appeal to local residents to make their views known to Stockfield Community Association and Acocks Green Baptists now, by downloading and completing their questionnaire on the plan.  The questionnaire is available here.  It should be returned to 2A Alexander Road, B27 6HE.   We are also in the process of producing materials suitable for petition (leaflet and petition form) and have already promised one road that such materials will be available shortly.  Please contact us, using our ‘Contact Us’ link, see near top right of this website,  if you would also like petition materials.

We are  also appealing directly to Stockfield  Community Association and Acocks Green Baptists to reconsider their plans now,  before any more harm is done.   We will be writing to them separately.

13 Responses to “Grade A Listed Glynne Edwards (Acocks Green Baptist) Hall Under Threat”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Richard Salmon and AcocksGreenFocusGrp, AcocksGreenFocusGrp. AcocksGreenFocusGrp said: Charming Grade A locally listed building in Acocks Green to save from being demolished and replaced by plate glass shed […]

  2. Phil Hough says:

    According to Birmingham City Council’s website, the Glynn Edward Hall is not actually listed – locally or nationally.

    I understood that the point of this scheme was to redevelop this corner building in order to safeguard a viable future for the far more significant, two nationally listed buildings on the site (the church and the Arthur Moore Hall). I support these proposals and have actullay heard positive comments and views on the proposals.

    • Julia says:

      Hi Phil

      Thank you for drawing our attention to the lack of reference to the Grade A listing on the Council Website. This was helpful. We are keen to ensure that our information is up to date and accurate, and there was clearly something puzzling here. Therefore we have now double checked with Julie Taylor at BCC Conservation Department who has now reviewed the original documents in connection with listing applications for the Baptist Building complex in Acocks Green. She can confirm that the Glynn Edwards is locally listed Grade A, and the Council website list will be shortly updated to reflect this.

      In regard to your second point, we are interested to hear that the reason for the proposal to demolish the Glynn Edwards is the need to make a viable future for the other two buildings. This is not an argument that we have previously heard. The main argument that seems to have been presented is that the new building would be more ‘efficient’ and more ‘welcoming’. This seems to have been the main approach when showing plans and it is certainly this approach which is reflected in The Stockfield News for Winter 2010-11. This publication, in discussing these plans, refers to:

      […] a need for good quality local activities and facilities […] (and) plans to further improve the church site as a welcoming and well equipped centre for the community

      However, we know that the view many people are already taking is that the appearance of these two statutorily listed buildings would be so severely damaged by the demolition and replacement of the Glynn Edwards with the proposed design that, in the long term interests of the other two buildings, the only sensible option is to bin this plan. (In our posting here we are also questioning the idea that this new building is ‘welcoming’, at all, and generally commenting further on these Stockfield News points.)

      Finally, we accept that you heard some positive comments but we very much doubt that the number of positive comments you have heard will anything like outweigh the groundswell of unpopularity for this plan.

  3. Claire J says:

    I have lived in Alexander Road for over a decade now and pass the Glyn Edwards Hall most days. I love the old building. It is a warm and friendly presence on the corner of Alexander Road and Yardley Road.
    While I welcome and support the Baptist Church’s desire to move forward and be responsive to the needs of the local community, I oppose the wholesale demolition of this Grade A listed building, and would beg the Church to find a way of adapting the existing building to be more flexible.
    This building is listed for a reason.

  4. Julia says:

    Hi Claire

    I think you are very much not on your own in this. See also (if you have not already done so) the report on the Acocks Green Neighbourhood website here on the discussion at the last Acocks Green Neighbourhood Forum meeting. Another local website, Acocks Green History Society website has also put up a link to our story here. I think we would all join you in begging the Baptists and Stockfield to think again.

  5. Clive Mason says:

    I think that the proposed new building will be a total monstrosity. You only have to look to the other side of the Yardley road to see how the old house was redeveloped in keeping with the original building. Having lived along the road for 25 years and known it from the 11 bus all my life, I look at the plans and am reminded of the Swan Centre, now knocked down. It was an ugly monalith to the then prevaling designers views, no acont of local feeling was alowed to interfere. One only has to look at the city centre, all those beautiful victorian/edwardian buildings dwarfed by hideous 60’s/70’s concrete monaliths. As a former assistant cub leader I would also be wary of the use of plate glass, who wants to be a goldfish for the gawping, stand around on street corner youngsters, who usually can’t find any other activity to occupy their time.

    • Julia says:

      Hi Clive

      Yes – we have heard quite a lot about the fact that the building will not be in keeping with its surroundings. The phrase ‘goldfish bowl’ also came into my mind as well.


  6. Al says:

    Like Claire J, I understand the Baptist Church needs to move forward and be responsive to the needs of our local community. But the proposed design is awful. A big factor in why we moved to Acocks Green was the lovely buildings and the unique feel of this area. There must be better options than demolishing this charming hall and replacing it with what I have heard someone else describe as looking like a Lidl. Since I became aware of the plans I have mentioned them to my neighbours and they are quite shocked at this as well. We have something very special – let’s work together to help the Church and Stockfield move forward without losing it.

    • Julia says:

      Thanks Al. Agreed that we all need to work together on this in order to move forward as a community. Does anyone want to defend this design?

  7. Al says:

    There is a very moving timelapse clip (just over a minute) of Chamberlain Square in the centre of town which may be of interest to people thinking about this issue

    It is worth looking at the lessons of history before we make big decisions.

  8. Brian Prangle says:

    This development will be an act of vandalism, plonking down something totally out of keeping with the area and will only serve to dilute the architectural merit of the adjacent buildings. We’ve got enough ugliness to contend with without more. It’s a lovely looking building – please keep it

  9. myta hill says:

    I am horrified at the plans to demolish this historic, important and very attractive building. We must stop yet another destruction of our vast diminishing heritage.Hands off!

    • Julia says:

      Thanks Myta. We also repeating your comment under the details for this year’s plan. This was last year’s idea … it has been a bit relentless and we realise that gets confusing!

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