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