Report on Meetings re Glynn Edwards Hall, 20 July 2012

July 23rd, 2012

There have now been two meetings on the Glynn Edwards Hall. The first was at the Hall itself. The second meeting was the Ward Meeting on 25 July. At both meetings we were confronted with the assumption (stated with much aggression and force at the 20 July meeting by both plan proposers and archite and reiterated on 25 July by the proposers that there is a problem which is best solved by demolishing and rebuilding the Glynn Edwards. With vast confidence, this takes for granted that it will be lucrative to let small rooms in the newly rebuilt Glynn Edwards Hall, and that, therefore, the estimated two million to rebuild the hall will be money well spent. This should be considered against the likely two hundred thousand or so to properly renovate the Arthur Moore Hall, to make minor improvements to The Glynn Edwards and to utilise the existing roof space there.

One member of the audience on at the earlier meeting was a particularly dramatic lady, who was a member of a party from Solihull, who appeared to have been brought in to instruct the benighted residents of Acocks Green, in how to run their affairs. (One has to have sympathy with the proposers We guess. They were clearly finding it a bit difficult to find any locals to support them.)

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This lady informed us all, at some length, that the wind would be blowing through the broken window panes of the Glynn Edwards in ten years time, if it was not knocked down and replaced, forthwith, by Naomi’s two million quid monstrosity.

This, however, assumes that the small rooms in the new building will be easy to rent out. In point of fact, rooms, ready to let, in another Acocks Green church building, owned by Acocks Green Methodists have proved impossible to let, at a market rent, to the kinds of socially orientated organisations which the Baptists, also, appear to have in mind. The renting ideas presented in the Planning Application documents connected with the proposal to demolish and rebuild the hall remain vague and insubstantial. At the meeting, by way of proof that this scheme would now work, we were invited to rely on a secret Business Plan which we were informed was now completed, though, we understand, not yet voted and ratified by a quorate Church meeting.

The worrying alternative scenario, based on the real facts of the position in Acocks Green, in this economic climate, is that the building with the broken glass and the wind and the tumbleweed etc blowing through it in ten years time will not be the existing, very popular, 1924 Grade A locally listed building, but the new one with the now famous small rooms with the decidedly dodgy sounding rental plans which cannot be revealed.

At the Ward meeting the developers were quizzed on their claim that English Heritage supported them, after portions of a letter from the local English Heritage inspector, Dr Sarah Lewis, was read out at the meeting. Theletter from Dr Sarah Lewis of English Heritage plainly doesnot support the proposers. (This letter, originally addressed to Justin Howell, at BCC Planning Department, on 15 June, was kindly re-forwarded by Dr Lewis to Acocks Green Focus Group on 25 July 2012.) The developers amended their claim that English Heritage supported them, to them claiming that the Lottery ‘branch’ of English Heritage supported them. However, the Heritage Lottery is a different organisation, not connected with English Heritage. Therefore, we find the claim, proudly made at the first meeting, that ‘English Heritage supports’ somewhat disingenuous, to say the least.

May we also remind that Naomi Fisher and her associates at Apec are essentially salespeople for their product. They are quite good at it, but in the circumstances, one would expect no less. We understand that they have already been handsomely paid, by Stockfield Community Association, many thousands of pounds of their funds, for the plans they have drawn up and they certainly stand to make much, much, more if the Plan Application goes through. Meantime, Stockfield who, we are advised, have been pouring their community funds into the Apec coffers for this, for some time, are now, also, one would imagine, desperate, to have something to show; Stockfield residents in particular, please note, and weigh carefully any approaches now made to you.

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