Shhh – Stockfield has a secret. Alternative plans showing new designs for the building which Stockfield Community Association and Acocks Green Baptist Church hope to build to replace the much loved locally Grade A listed Glynn Edwards Hall in Acocks Green were shown on Tuesday 7 May 2013, but only at two non-publicly advertised events and only to a carefully selected few who had received letters. After repeated questioning Daphne Francis of SCA, who initially talked of having written to local residents and of having taken names from Birmingham City Council Planning Department’s list of those who commented on the previous plans refused point blank to reveal the source of the list of people she had contacted. Instead she finally agreed, in front of four witnesses, that it was the case that she was keeping the source of her list secret and accepted that this fact would be recorded. A group of four local residents who had all commented on the previous plans and who attended to view the plans had none of them received notification either as local residents or as previous commentators, even though two of them lived in Alexander Road, which The Glynn Edwards Hall sides onto. The four were forced to rely on information from someone who had received a letter. Stockfield delegates also agreed that there were no notices outside advertising the event and agreed that they had not advertised the event in the press, or via the constituency officer who usually circulates details of local meetings to local organisations, and seemed unable to explain these points.
When it was pointed out to the Stockfield representatives that this meant that many people would have had no chance to comment on the plans and they were asked if they would be holding another, better advertised, session they said no. They had had the sessions on this day and that was it.
In other words it would appear that Stockfield is trying to cherry pick those who will comment on its new plans, and then, by refusing to reveal the source of their list so that there can be any checking of the number of people on it who were actually contacted (As would be the case with either a road list or a BCC list of objectors) to conceal this tactic as well. Moreover the form for comment is worded in such a way as to make it very difficult to indicate a dislike for both plans and a preference for the existing building. Yet, being no strangers to the tactics of SCA Acocks Green Focus Group members now suspect that the opinion forms now being collected in will be the ones which will go to BCC Planning, in support of a claim that local residents support one of the two options rather than supporting the retention of the existing hall.
Incredibly, and despite ourreport of our flickr site visit in July 2012 which has been endorsed by both local MP John Hemming and local Conservation Architect Joe Holyoak, showing that the Arthur Moore requires about Â£120,000 of works, is slightly neglected but is not falling down, a member of the Stockfield board then trotted out the same tired old story that if the Glynn Edwards is not demolished and rebuilt at a cost of around two million the Arthur Moore would somehow rapidly deteriorate and collapse through lack of funding: funding which incidentally could quite easily have been found if Stockfield had stuck to plan A in 2009 and purchased a lease to the Arthur Moore Hall from Acocks Green Baptist Church. Instead legally acquired documents show that Stockfield has poured away over Â£100,000 and rising into unwanted plans for The Glynn Edwards Hall. We still await the publication latest accounts, showing latest spending on Glynn Edwards plans. These accounts (which have to be placed in the public domain) were already late at the beginning of April.
Ms Francis also refused to allow the plans to be photographed. In fact the sheer nervousness of the plan proposers was almost tangible. However, they could hardly prevent sketches being made. So, with apologies for not being able to bring you the originals (Ask Stockfield and their architects if they are feeling brave enough to show the originals of these in Acocks Green yet!) Here is our approximation of what theywere too frightened to showyou the general public of Acocks Green and other interested parties who care about what happens in our period suburbs.
Note the two versions of the front. Option A prominently features a plate glass door – those are the four small squares in front. Option B features a kind of Gable end with window, in a vague nod to the original and plain oblong windows on the right but the overall effect is plainer and more angular. All designs are in red brick, but the attractive Arts and Crafts patterned brick design across the main gable end in the present building is gone as also is the black and white timber frame detailing which echoes many local buildings around this spot.
Here, below is a closer look at the side.
The difference is striking. Distinctive Arts and Crafts style gable ends and black and white timber framing, both of which fit well into the local street scene in the view of various key national and Birmingham conservationists who have commented, have been replaced by dreary flat oblong rows of plain windows. Option B, which we suspect is the option those few who saw the designs were expected to vote for has a little more variation at the end, on the right, but not much. Is this a church hall, a modern factory or a prison block? Is this what we want for this corner of Alex Road?
Watch this space … shortly we will consider the fixed two option form which requires participants in this exercise to vote for one of the two options (‘keep existing hall please’ not permitted as an option.) We will display both the form itself and an alternative three option version (Option C – ‘Keep existing 1924 Grade A listed Glynn Edwards Hall please.’) which you may send to Planning yourself if you wish, in order to help counterbalance the two option forms which we are fairly sure will be sent in to Planning as evidence of support for the demolition scheme. These will be forms completed by a highly hand-selected invite list crowd who were encouraged to view and comment on the options. (And perish the thought, but we are tempted to speculate on the fate of any of those handed in to Stockfield which did not bring in the desired response as well.) Do you live in Acocks Green? Were you on that list? Thought not!
Stockfield’s Plans for the Glynn Edwards: Their Two Option Form and our Modified Three Option Form with the Missing Option C
First here is the Stockfield form as it was offered to a limited selection of apparently hand-picked Acocks Green residents on May 7 2013. We strongly suspect that this will form the basis of a rigged ballot in which completed forms will be sent to Birmingham City Council Planning Department in support of a claim that local residents have voted for demolition of the building and the provision of the supposed very unclear ‘facilities’ offered by its replacement. Note there are two options only: Option A, or Option B – both imply support for demolition of The Hall: a good old fashioned sales tactic. You are also invited to tick to say that you support ‘the proposal for a new Community Facility’. The ‘facility’ consists of a cafe (In an area away from the main centre of Acocks Green but where there is already a nearby cafe.) a ‘training kitchen’, a computer skills training room (There are already a number of computer skills training facilities in Acocks Green for the increasingly dwindling number of people who do not already have computer skills) and a number of very small rooms. No details of how this ‘facility’ might better serve the community than the existing large well lit and airy meeting room were on offer at the exhibition.
Below is our new, improved, options form with the missing Option C: retention of existing building, included.
You can download the pre-completed form here:
Or, if you would rather have a blank version for your own comments download this one. Glynn Edwards hall pre-planning consultation Option C (Keep Existing Hall) Blank Version
We suggest that you send either of these forms not to our friends at Stockfield Community Association but to Justin Howell, Planning Officer, Planning and Regeneration, PO Box 28, Birmingham B1 1TU, where your form may then keep company with completed limited Option A/B forms which we imagine will shortly be arriving from Stockfield in support of their latest about to be submitted demolition plans.