Yup. The silly season comes late to Acocks Green. The Glynn Edwards Hall Demolition Mob is at it again
If you would like to have a look at the original application documents before you check out what we say about them below then they are all here
However, we realise ploughing through that little lot makes a lot of demands on people’s time, and we don’t all have a lot of spare time. Therefore, for simplicity here are the existing and proposed front and side views. We strongly suggest you double click for a larger view which will give greater clarity.)
The existing front view has greater unity with the church than the new one. If you look at the door areas of both Baptist building you will see that both give a clear central focus. This is lost in the design of the new hall. However, it is the unity with the whole street scene which becomes clear in the two line-ups immediately above, depicting the street scene. In the first of these – the street scene as it is now – look at the striped black and white timber effect gable ends on the shops and see how these relate to the Glynn Edwards Hall … the architect hadlooked. In the second line-up the bland and cheap looking replacement building looks a bit as though it has dropped from outer space/a bleak 70s estate? This is the kind of thing you would walk past and, if you noticed it at all find yourself vaguely wondering what nice building it had replaced?
Lets now have a look at the side elevations – first as it is now, and then the proposed one – below.
OK: we are putting Frederick Andrews (Glynn Edwards design, 1924) up against Naomi Fisher (Designer of proposed replacement building for Glynn Edwards, 2013)
For those who recall her nightmare 2012 effort, yes Naomi’s design might be marginally better this time: at least the colour matches the Arthur Moore Hall next door* but see how Naomi’s new building is all about very flat plain rectangles. Has Naomi really looked at the building she is placing her rectangular lump alongside? The Glynn Edwards has three curved windows along the side. Frederick again had obviously looked at what was next door. He had looked at that curved window at the top middle of the Arthur Moore and thought about how he could continue the style in the Glynn Edwards. Also towers all round here are a theme – note (as Frederick obviously did) how towers are echoed from the Police Station to the Arthur Moore. There are two tall towers on the church and then there are matching bell towers on the Glynn Edwards and the Church. Also the Arthur Moore is a highly ornamental building. Frederick’s existing Glynn Edwards building next to it is also, in its own way, ornamental. Naomi’s proposed new one is almost aggressively plain. Yes, it might respectfully be saying ‘I am not as important as The Arthur Moore.’ (A Grade II Statutory listed building.) but doesn’t it also makes this corner a boring nonentity in the street scene.?
*Strictly speaking it is the small caretaker’s house, 2A Alexander Road, which is next door, but we hardly see it between the two halls.
Another Point …
Have a quick look at the scene on the right here. What do you notice about the Glynn Edwards and the two big houses visible on Yardley Road … check out the gable ends … again this building was planned to belong in this scene. Now look at the proposed one again!
Is this New Building Necessary?
Those of us who were present at the Acocks Green Ward meeting (4 September) where the plan proposers attempted to justify their ideas came away somewhat mystified. Many people at the meeting felt there was a lack of honesty – a sense of something not being said. This complaint came both from the floor and from the councillors. None of the plan proposers’ claims seemed to stand up to much examination. We look at what their claims:
- They Say: Glynn Edwards’ sister hall the Statutorily listed 1903 Arthur Moore is falling down. It urgently needs many hundreds of thousand pounds spent on it. Re-building the Glynn Edwards will somehow finance this. But some of us went round the Arthur Moore last summer and the repairs on the Arthur Moore have been costed (by Focus Group, members with a well respected Birmingham conservation architect (Joe Holyoak) and the local MP (John Hemming) as witnesses, at around Â£120,000 to include attention to all breaches caused by damp – there are many – and a new Central Heating system. It struck us very much that the Arthur Moore, although neglected and in need of TLC, was not falling down. It is remarkably solid. The plan proposers at the Ward meeting tried to tell us that there were more things wrong with the Arthur Moore than we had noticed, but (see our previous post) clammed up when asked for details, telling us this was secret and leaving Cllr Stewart Stacey concluding the discussion by asking the plan proposers to consider more transparency.
- They say: Without demolishing the Glynn Edwards and re-building it to make money there is no money for any improvements at all.But Stockfield is well-funded and was originally going to buy a lease on the Arthur Moore to enable repairs. It can be proved from Companies House records that they have now spent more than Â£120,000 on plans. Moreover Companies House records show that the Heart of England Baptists Association has at least Â£330,000 in funds for building renovations. HEBA reports a good year last year and it is currently trying to work out how to make application for funding for building projects even easier. Lots of local churches had grants from HEBA last year. (Chelmsley Wood Baptist Church was recently in receipt of Â£100,000 – see previous post for more details and downloadable HEBA report.) When the HEBA position was put to the plan proposers they first denied it altogether and then began to suggest a kind of pride in not applying and standing by and allowing the Arthur Moore to crumble. A shocked audience at the Ward meeting heard them imply that it was better to let this happen rather than simply go to HEBA for help with the Arthur Moore.
- They say: There is high unemployment in Acocks Green and we desperately need an employment training centre (which is mainly what it appears the new building would be). But this is simply not true. In fact they were corrected by Cllr John O’Shea in the meeting. Recent Council figures show that Acocks Green has lower than average unemployment for Birmingham. Plus the unemployment training would appear to consist mainly of a catering training centre attached to a cafe (Does everyone in Acocks Green who is unemployed want to work in catering?) and an IT training centre. However, Â£1,000 of Ward funds were, at the very same meeting, awarded to Friends Centre providing IT training yards away on the Yardley Road. (Incidentally, Friends Centre note that on their shoestring budget they are helping over 120 people a week, and also helping with job search) On a grander scale Stonehall Adult Education Centre in Acocks Green Village provides plenty of IT training at numerous levels and times, to suit all needs!
- They say: Lots of groups in Acocks Green want small meeting rooms and there is a chronic shortage so small meeting rooms are being provided for hire. But … no-one seems to have any idea who these mysterious groups who are so desperate for small meeting rooms and can’t get ’em. There is already a small meeting room at 2A Alexander Road which is used by some groups, but not 24/7. Meantime quite a lot of smaller groups use The Hopkins Room at the Methodist Church, and the new room division at Acocks Green Library has created another smaller meeting room there. There are a lot of very small rooms in the plan in the hope apparently (judging by the blurb) that many of us will discover we are in need of either counselling or a ‘sports massage’ – hands up who wants the Glynn Edwards demolished so they can get a ‘sports massage’?
- Mother and Toddler groups and Weight Watcher’s classes were mentioned as needed in Acocks Green. But they forgot to mention that these are already provided in the existing Baptist buildings.
- Smoking cessation clinics are also regularly mentioned as a need. But GP surgeries in Acocks Green already seem to provide these … otherwise not a lot else is suggested by way of useful functions!
- The various documents accompanying the plans nearly all seem to make huge play of the supposed need to make the Baptist buildings feel more logically connected and integrated, But … um … why?
Moreover, it seems increasingly unclear how either Stockfield residents or the Baptist congregation are going to benefit from all of this. The original plan to do up the Arthur Moore as a simple centre for Stockfield seems to have become lost under a welter of complicated ideas which don’t provide much more than the original envisaged meeting space at The Arthur Moore, unless we assumes that the small estate of 500 or so homes is in dire need of huge amounts of training for employment in the catering industry! Meantime, Stockfield Committee has already handed over 120K to Naomi Fisher of Apec Architects – (who first suggested the employment catering training scheme at a tag of 2 million for the building and designs) for useless designs, and Stockfield look set to hand over a lot more. Perhaps Stockfield residents could think of other ways of spending these Stockfield Estate funds? The Baptists may come off even worse, since it was admitted at the Ward meeting that they may then have to pay to use their own facilities! There were several gasps at the meeting when this was admitted.
I want to stop this nonsense and help keep the Glynn Edwards. How can I help?
Download your letter objecting to the 2013 application to demolish the Glynn Edwards Hall here. To save time you can use the letter as it stands. If you want to spend a bit longer then add your own comments or take any of the points off it, together with address and plan details, if you want to write your own letter. Official closing date is 10 October but this will definitely go on longer, and objections will certainly be taken for a while after that. Too busy for that? You can email your objections in on-line here using the comments link to comment on the Acocks Green Baptist Buildings P.A.You can also use our ‘Contact us’ link on the right for information about other ways of helping, and watch this space for updates on the campaign.
Finally: A Special Contribution from Sixties Super Group, The Who
Because we couldn’t resist it, here is a catchy little sixties hit song, courtesy of The Who, especially for our friends who are clearly so in love with the lovely Naomi’s demolition schemes for The Glynn Edwards that explanations elude them. This rendition of the song really seems to encapsulate the ditzy mood of the Glynn Edwards Hall Demolition Mob at the Acocks Green September 2013 Ward meeting … bless!