Acocks Green’s Proposed Conservation Area

February 23rd, 2014
Boundaries of the Proposed Acocks Green Conservation Area

Boundaries of the Proposed Acocks Green Conservation Area

Acocks Green’s long awaited Conservation Area proposal is finally here and on the table.

You can see the plans and an exhibition about the scheme at three consultation sessions. Over refreshments, you will also be able to ask questions and, most importantly, if you live in one of these roads, you can complete a questionnaire giving your views. Your views are needed. The Conservation Area cannot go ahead without the majority support of the residents in the roads inside it.

The three consultations have now taken place. Missed them all? You can still find out about the Proposed Conservation Area by reading about it here. You can still vote (Until Midnight Tuesday 18 March) by downloading the Acocks Green Conservation Area Consultation – Response Form and returning to (choice of three):

  • email address jh@joeholyoak.co.uk
  • Acocks Green Neighbourhood mail box, foyer, Acocks Green Library (Inside first doors, see in front of you on left)
  • post to AGCAC 101 Hazelwood Road, Acocks Green, Birmingham, B27 6X”

(Please do not return forms direct to Acocks Green Focus Group or Acocks Green History Society because they are the proposers of this Conservation Area and we need to be able to demonstrate an unbiased and fair recording of the response.)

The Boundary Line

The boundaries of the proposed area are shown above. If you give the map a couple of quick clicks with the mouse it will enlarge for easier viewing. How to read it? The line with the yellow border running diagonally across the middle is the railway line. The two long roads at the top left are Alexander Road (next to and parallel to the railway and then Douglas Road. Douglas Road is not in the area and only a tiny part of Alexander Road is (to include the Baptist Buildings and the Fire Station). Otherwise the red line takes in two rows of shops on Yardley road, crossing the road at Elmdon Road. Working back towards the railway, you will see Elmdon Road, Malvern Road and The Avenue. Colwell Walk, running between Elmdon and Malvern is also included. On the other side of the railway, bottom right hand corner is a small part of Oxford Road. The line moves around to take in ten houses on Station Road and cuts across Dudley Park Road, taking in part of it. The whole of Sherbourne Road is included, as is Sherbourne Drive. The line continues round to take in Flint Green Road, Greswolde Park Road and Arden Road.

FAQ’s

Q. Why is this happening?

Acocks Green has a unique history as a railway suburb, and it has some fine architecture, especially from the period of the coming of the railway. These points both need recognising. More recently, as many people will recall, there have been a lot of threats to the fabric of Acocks Green: its architecture and its trees. Both of these will be protected by the Conservation Area.

Finally, it is now already established that people in Acocks Green care about where they live and take a pride in their area. This is why it is becoming increasingly hard for developers (42-44 Flint Green, The Glynn Edwards Hall etc) to get permission to knock down and redevelop: we put up a good fight. This has been noted: there are other areas of the City where this would not be tried. But a Conservation Area would give far more legal security without depending upon the vigilance, time and energy of local volunteers, who may not always be there!

Q. What does this mean for the people living in these roads?

If the Conservation Area application is successful the houses within the prescribed roads would be subject to something called an Article 4 Direction. This gives extra legal protection to both the buildings, and protection to trees within the area of its remit.

If you want to demolish buildings within a Conservation Area you will need Planning Consent. You will also need permission to:

  • carry out work on trees
  • change external doors or windows
  • put in new porches
  • make alterations to roofs
  • add satellite dishes
  • changes gates , fences walls or boundary areas
  • create hard standing
  • paint or pebble-dash the building

There are no fees charged for applications for permission to do these things, but application must be made. This does not mean that you will not be able to make any changes. Proposed alterations will be considered on their merits, with a view to protecting the overall character of the area.

The advantage to you is that firstly the area is likely to look more attractive, with fewer period features and trees being lost or damaged. and fewer ugly and unsympathetic modern additions appearing. Secondly, Conservation Area status tends to increase the desirability of an area. Many people want to live in Conservation Areas and property prices tend to rise.

Q. What is likely to happen to the value of my property if it becomes part of a Conservation Area?

If you are thinking about selling then there is good news for you here. A recent (2012) rigorous research exercise by the highly respected London School of Economics found that on average house prices in Conservation Areas go up by 23%

Q. Why these roads?

At present the Conservation Area focuses on the coming of the railway, and the difference this made to Acocks Green. This is why the Area is concentrated on the North side of Warwick Road. A set of roads was needed which would both help to tell this story of Acocks Green and contain interesting architectural features. Some roads which also have well-built Edwardian terraces, like Alexander Road and Douglas Road, have been left out because unfortunately too many houses in these roads have been drastically altered.

Q. I live on the south side of the Warwick Road, and there are some good building there too – didn’t you even look there?

Yes, we did, and we are aware of quality buildings on the other side of the road. However, in order to make a t case for a Conservation Area we have to present need was to make a convincing case for a Conservation Area we had to present a coherent joined up whole which told one story. Also we could not make the area too big because detailed studies need to be made as part of our presentation and this takes a very long time – this project has been ongoing for several years. Finally, we were aware that a lot of buildings in this part of Acocks Green have been under various threats and some have already been altered. We needed to make a start on creating an area before it was too late. We hope the area can be extended later.

Q. Who is doing this?

This Conservation Area has been drawn up by local people in consultation with, and the approval of Birmingham City Council Conservation Team in the Planning Department. Birmingham Conservation architect Joe Holyoak, who is also case worker and Deputy Chair of Birmingham and West Midlands Victorian Society has been engaged on a Community First grant to give support. Otherwise the project is led by Acocks Green Focus Group and Acocks Green History Society, with support from Acocks Green Neighbourhood Forum, Arden Road Residents’ Association and our local elected representatives in the form of Acocks Green Ward Committee. Ultimate approval is still required from Council Committees, but this is a very local project and it is unique in the history of Birmingham.

Q. I am worried about energy conservation. I was thinking of putting in double glazing. What now?

Double glazing can be efficient, but it can also take years to get back the cost of installing double glazing in savings on your energy bills. Older properties are often draughty. There can cheap and efficient ways of draught proofing your property without going to the expensive of installing UPVC windows. There is more advice in this downloadable English Heritage Guide: Energy Conservation in Traditional Buildings

Q. I live in one of these roads. Do I get a say?

Yes, if you live in one of the relevant roads you do get a say. For preference come along to one of the sessions listed above, where you can gain more information and complete a questionnaire. Otherwise you can write to Acocks Green Conservation Area Scheme, C/0 101 Hazelwood Road, Acocks Green Birmingham B27 6XW (Note this is not the address of any of the scheme proposers but the neutral address of an Acocks Green Village Partnership office holder. Letters will be counted and noted before being passed on) or email jh@joeholyoak.co.uk or pop a letter in the Acocks Green Neighbourhood Forum Mail Box in the foyer of Acocks Green Library – but for this last you will need to wait until March 4th when the Library re-opens after the repairs! NB The C.A. can only go ahead with local support. We would rather you came to one of the sessions to have a chat first, but that is not possible (or you took away your response form and mislaid it!) There is an. Acocks Green Consultation Area Consultation – Response Form here Just download and print and email, post or drop in at The Library.

Description of the Area

If you would like more detail the below is mainly condensed from the ‘character appraisal’ which has been submitted to Birmingham City Council

The conservation area can be perceived as divided into three sub-areas: two groups of residential streets, north and south of the railway line, and the commercial centre on Yardley Road which divides the two residential sub-areas.

The largest of the two residential sub-areas is south of the railway line. With the exception of a few late twentieth-century infill developments and a handful of non-residential buildings, it consists predominantly of late-Victorian and Edwardian houses. The scale of the houses, in terms of both frontage and height, is comparatively large, and there is much good and varied detail, in brick and masonry front walls, ornamental gables and barge boards, leaded lights, ornamental porches, and bay windows.

Arden Road Houses

Arden Road Houses

This includes Arden Road, Flint Green Road, Sherbourne Road and Station Road. These were all pre-industrial country lanes (despite its name, Station Road pre-dates the railway): after the arrival of the railway they were joined by Dudley Park Road, Oxford Road and Greswolde Park Road. Streets are quite wide.

The Arden Road Oak

The Arden Road Oak

Arden Road possess the most coherent and harmonious architecture with repetitive types with varied detail built by the local builder Williams and Body. Arden Road also possesses the striking landmark feature of the very old oak tree standing in the centre of the street.

Flint Green Road and Sherbourne houses are slightly earlier: mid-Victorian , larger and impressive in a more severe way.

Flint Green & Sherbourne-cropped

The residential sub-area north of the railway line includes The Avenue, Malvern Road and Elmdon Road. Houses are of several different periods, from mostly late Victorian and Edwardian houses nearer to Yardley Road, to twentieth-century Edwardian and interwar semi-detached houses at the lower end of Elmdon Road and Malvern Road. A lot of good original detail – porches, bargeboards, stained glass, stone boundary walls – remains.

The Avenue has an eclectic mixture of late nineteenth and early twentieth-Baskerville House (14 The Ave) Acocks Greencentury houses much of them built joined into terraces. The most prominent is number 14 of 1871, with the coach house and much original detail su

The Avalon Hotel (48 Sherbourne Road)

The ‘commercial centre’ begins on Sherbourne Road and runs north along Yardley Road. Immediately south of the station are two hotels on opposite sides of Sherbourne Road: the Italianate Avalon Hotel. (Currently on sale, future without the Conservation Area uncertain

The Great Western Pub

Further along in Yardley Road is the Great Western Hotel; named after the railway it stands next to. It was built in the 1950s, but is still clearly in the older Art Deco tradition of the 1930s.

Across Yardley Road, at the junction with Alexander Road, is the most significant cluster of historic non-residential buildings.

Police Station, Fire Station - croppedAcross Alexander Road are the four buildings belonging to the Baptist church; the Arthur Moore Hall, the caretaker’s house, the Glynn Edwards Hall. (However could we forget? This building seems safer for now, but we would like to see it safer still. )

Glynn Edwards for CA Consultation Poster-modifeid

The Glynn Edwards Hall – survivor of two recent planning applications to demolish and the subject of vigorous local campaigns

and the far more austere and but striking Baptist Church itself. The cluster is predominantly in red brick and terra-cotta.

Baptist Church & GE - for Cons Area Consult Post

Acocks Green Baptist Church and The Glynn Edwards Hall to the left

Yardley Road shops - upper stories

Upper story windows, Yardley Road shops

On Yardley Road next to the church is the first of two similar Edwardian parades of shops, on either side of Douglas Road: the first has six shops, the second eight.The shop fronts require varying amounts of restoration, but most are essentially intact. Above the shop fronts are large first floor oriel windows, and above these are dormer windows in large gables almost equal in width to the shop fronts.

Across Yardley Road is the locally listed number 50, a large three-storey villa converted to commercial use, designed by important Victorian architect John Nicol, who lived in the house. (This is no longer completely intact but the main features including especially the front bay window were saved after a successful local campaign in 2005.

50 Yardley Road-cropped

50 Yardley Road (John Nicol, 1903)

Will you support our bid for a Conservation Area to help keep our treasures – the Acocks Green ‘family silver’ safe? We hope so. Don’t forget the Conservation Area Consultation dates above.

4 Responses to “Acocks Green’s Proposed Conservation Area”

  1. […] If you want more details and a map of the Proposed Area, there is a very thorough article on the Acocks Green Focus Group’s website here   […]

  2. Sharon Moore says:

    I attended the drop-in session on Monday. I think that this is far too great a decision, with far reaching implications, for residents to make without a formal meeting where everyone’s views and concerns can be aired and heard. For example, it became apparent that we could support a Conservation area without the more draconian restrictions of an Article 4 Direction which requires permission for a multitude of decisions which we have hitherto made ourselves. It is frankly ludicrous to suggest that draft proofing in these houses is just as good as double glazing and whilst UPVC is unlikely to be approved in the future there are no grants available for the far more costly procedure of, for example, having to have bespoke units made. This proposal effects a huge number of households the majority of which will be unaware of the extent of its potential effects or the alternatives. The ‘carrot’ of ‘increased house prices’ is neither proven nor guaranteed and the reality is that properties within conservation areas are harder to sell because of potential purchasers fears that alterations will take longer to attend to and almost always be more costly to undertake. The ‘you’re all right Jack’ attitude because such work has already been carried out is not helpful and does not address the real issue. I am very concerned that this motion could be carried by the vociferous few without the silent majority realising what it entails. Surely we should have a public meeting, with members of the council and planning department present, to formally address concerns and candidly respond to householders queries. I understand the library is now open … I believe a full public debate is essential if this matter is to be decided upon fairly.

    • Julia says:

      Hi Sharon

      It was good that you dropped in, and thank you for sharing your concerns with us. I will try to address them as best as I can:

      1) The ‘consultation’ that is being carried out is the normal process before approval of a Conservation Area is requested. There have also been public meetings: the Conservation Area proposals were presented at an Acocks Green Neighbourhood Forum meeting, at an Arden Residents’ meeting and at an Acocks Green Ward meeting. All of these were circulated and advertised in the usual ways however, the advantage of the ‘consultation’ (which we must carry out) is that residents can get detailed attention from a range of proposers and experts. Everyone can put all the questions they like and receive individual answers. In a public meeting many people are too shy too speak up, especially when they may want to ask questions about their own property. Also, in the face of a flood of questions, others may end with their hand raised for a long time but then be told that time is up before they have been heard.

      2) You also request ‘a public meeting with members of the Council and Planning Department present’ – this C.A. is unique in being proposed by the residents of Acocks Green, not by the Planning Department, therefore it is not part of the duties of the Planning Department to answer questions. In regard to councillors, our local elected members, who are the councillors most directly concerned here, all support the proposal. However, in due course Council committees and not the proposers will be making the decision and they will be considering the responses carefully: the box in the room was sealed because we have decided to ensure that the proposers do not have access before the questionnaires have been counted and properly sorted into those for and against the proposition. (And that box did not go home with any of the proposers.) This is also why all questionnaires which do not go in the box are going to places other than the proposers own address or email addresses.

      3) Yes, we could have a Conservation Area without Article 4, but without the article 4 the key details of many buildings, such as the stained glass in the windows, the doors, the ornate cladding on the fronts and the bay windows, would not be protected. In Arden Road and many other roads in the area it is these details that are crucial to the character of the area. If those are lost ( and a few have been) the area will stop being such an attractive place to live.

      4) I understand the worry about costs, but the only alternative to having UPVC double glazing is not that of having bespoke units made. Draught proofing was one other measure mentioned, but again not the only one, although English Heritage (who have considerable knowledge and experience) advise that it is important. However, secondary double glazing can be discrete and efficient, and is not very costly.

      5) I think your point that we had not justified our claim about house prices was a fair one. So here are the results of recent major survey carried commissioned by English Heritage and carried out by the London School of Economics (i.e. very trustworthy sources) showing increased house prices for a Conservation Area, increase on average by 23%. http://www.lse.ac.uk/newsAndMedia/news/archives/2012/07/conservation.aspx I trust you will accept this now. However, if you do still feel that the ‘the reality’ of the situation is that houses become harder to sell in a C.A. have you got another reliable survey you can point to? We would be interested to see any evidence here.

      5) I would like to put your mind at rest that there is no ‘vociferous few’ with extra powers. Everyone in the proposed Conservation Area has been invited to the consultations and has the right to vote. This will only go through with a majority in favour.

      The people in the room answering your questions included a Conservation architect and a former planning inspector, as well as local residents who are involved in putting forward the proposal. We all tried to answer your questions as candidly as possible, but if you feel that you still have unanswered questions please let us know, and we will do our best.

      Julia

  3. […] acocksgreenfocusgroup.org.uk/2014/02/23/acocks-greens-proposed-cons…  […]

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