Further to our recent post on The Glynn Edwards Hall in response to the recently submitted plan to demolish this building Acocks Green residents on the Hall side of Acocks Green have had a leaflet has dropped through their letter boxes. We reproduce it below. (Double clicking will enlarge to readable size.)
This leaflet purports to explain the current Stockfield Community Association/Acocks Green Baptist Church scheme. Except that it is stunning for what it does not say. In the middle of page 1 it says
We have reached an important stage in the project and while we continue to work on the plans we want to keep you updated. We know that that there are aspects of the scheme that have attracted interest and some concerns and we therefore want to ensure that residents have the correct and up to date information.
Excellent – so it is frankly explained here that it is planned to demolish this popular, locally Grade A listed building to replace it with a plain modern, angular, looking featureless building, with no proper hall? Er, actually, no.
There is no mention, anywhere in all of these two A4 sides of ‘correct and up to date information’ that it is planned to demolish The Glynn Edwards Hall. There is no mention of the building that will replace it. Check it out.
In fact there is no reference to the plan application currently up on the BCC Planning website at all. Apart from these teensie-weensie little omissions, what do we learn from this latest missive?
- ‘The scheme is to support and serve the community’ We say: By demolishing a much loved local building and removing a meeting hall?
- It will ‘Provide excellent facilities that will last.’ We say: The existing hall has lasted since 1924
- ‘Seek to balance past, present, and future community needs.’ We say: What exactly does this mean? How can one ‘balance’ past community needs? Exactly when did the community say it did not need the present hall?
- ‘Local views have been taken into account’? We say: Um, this would include all the letters against demolishing the hall and the petition against it … or maybe not … ?
- They are ‘ensuring the heritage of the buildings on the church site is preserved’. We say: This is highly controversial for the reasons set out in our previous post. There is no clear indication of how they are going to make enough money letting out small rooms in the new building in order to finance renovating the other buildings. Acocks Green Methodists have found that such a scheme is unworkable as a way of raising finance. They carefully fail to mention the destruction of one piece of heritage: the Grade A locally listed Glynn Edwards itself. They also omit to mention that some of the money they hope to raise would go towards destroying interior features in the Statutorily listed Baptist Church itself, where original pews would be ripped out.
- ”We are in close communication with the relevant authorities, including on the issue of listed buildings.’ We say: What they fail to mention is that they have had no support from any ‘relevant authorities’ on the subject of demolishing The Glynn Edwards. There is a letter included in the Planning Application (Appendix E) from Birmingham City Council Planning Department, from when this scheme was first being discussed.
- ‘A robust business plan is being prepared‘ We say: Suggested Translation: ‘After faffing around for three years with this idea we have put this plan in to the Planning Department and we still have not got our act together and prepared a credible business plan, so we can offer zero ‘correct and up to date information’ about this and we are hoping you will not notice. We expect that the Council, the Planning Committee and local residents will be stupid enough to wave this through without seeing any plan. As long as we say that the plan is ‘robust’ (sounds kinda cool??) we are desperately hoping everyone will be convinced.’
- ‘This is not a rush job’ We say: Er, why has the Planning Application been sent in before the Business Plan is finished and before you have asked anyone what they think then? And why, then, two weeks after putting the application in are you now rushing out a letter saying that a ‘robust plan’ is in the pipe line, and asking us for suggestions about what to do with the new building when you have demolished the old one?
- ‘We welcome your views on how you think the proposed scheme could benefit the local community/ We say: Er, what scheme? You have not explained what the ‘proposed scheme is’ . You have left people to work out that there is a Planning Application in, but you have not even mentioned it. Suggested Translation: ‘We have picked up the vibes that a lot of you don’t like this. We are now feeling desperate, and hoping that, that some of you will swallow our vague claims, not write to the Planning Department objecting, and, maybe even, give us the odd letter we can show to the Planning Department so that we claim the community support us … but we will, of course, only show the Planning Department letters in favour.
Sorry Stockfield and Baptists. You might have asked us before the plan went in. Now the only sensible place to send views is the Planning Department. It is the Planning Department and the Planning Committee who will decide on this. If people would like to write to the Planning Department, respond on-line here also, for main points, or if you would prefer to post, see our downloadable model letter Glynne Edwards Hall – Standard Letter Opposing demolition – re Plan June 2012
In summary, this is one of the most extraordinary documents we have ever seen. It attempts to defend a scheme – demolishing the Glynn Edwards Hall – without even owning up to what it is really talking about, let alone offering any pictures of the planned new building. Instead it talks vaguely, and somewhat repetitively about benefiting the local community in a way which is not clear.
Here is that comparison pic again with the proposed replacement building above, and the existing Glynn Edwards Hall below.