@include( 'template-config.php'); @include( 'content-link-page.php'); Acocks Green Focus Group | Working for Acocks Green: A Conservation and Re-Design Group - Part 3

Do you want the Glynn Edwards Hall to become ‘Facilities’?

November 5th, 2013

Stop Press: Just before we start … if you are looking to comment on-line to the Planning Department, to have your opinion counted (They are counting the number of for/against in the report to go to Planning Committee, 28th November, now.) then click here – look for the blue line ‘Add Comments Here’ if you would like to then carry on to cut and paste to share those comments with us, as well, in our own comments section then we would be delighted … but to be counted click above to make sure Justin at Planning sees!

Have you seen this yet? (Double click to enlarge)

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Letter received in Douglas Road -  Oct 2013 - 'Hidden Passions'-cropped

You may have been the lucky recipient of this letter if you live in Alexander or Douglas Roads, or on the Stockfield Estate.

Did you know it was talking about replacing the building at the top with the one at the bottom here?

Collage - Glynn Edwards Hall & Proposed Replacement - 2013

Mmmm lets take a closer look at that leaflet .. (Double click to enlarge)

Letter received in Douglas Road -  Oct 2013 - 'Hidden Passions'- cropped-1

What do we learn from this? Someone is offering to ‘[…] enhance our ‘spiritual, physical and mental well-being’ and ‘contribute towards the vibrancy of Acocks Green Community.’ In order to to these things they are going to provide a ‘[…] family Community Facility’. This is a ‘[…] much needed development.’ It is hoped that […] you would like to see this development take place’ and that you will want to help […] secure planning permission for this development.’

OK – what have you learned from this? Have you any idea at all what is being offered here? Could you describe it in your own words? We told that it is a ‘Family Community Facility. We are told three times that it is a ‘development’ and also that it is ‘much needed’ What is much needed? Since when did you wake up in the morning and say ‘I very much need a development to be built in my area in order to enhance my spiritual, physical and mental well-being’? Er, precisely how is this ‘development’ going to do these wonderful things?

Let’s read on and have a look: (Double click to enlarge)

Letter received in Douglas Road -  Oct 2013 - 'Hidden Passions-cropped-2

What are the Benefits of a local Community Facility?
we are asked.

Ah, so now we are being offered a ‘Facility‘ Let’s read on.

‘The opportunity for the community to have something of its own’

Glynne Edwards Hall - Interior for Meeting 19.6.2012-3This would sound touching except that the community has had ‘something of its own’ since 1924 when the far sighted Rev J. Glynn Edwards decided that we needed a nice big light airy Hall to meet in, and carry out many community activities in – and we still do. This is a picture of an Acocks Green Neighbourhood Forum meeting in the Glynn Edwards in 2012.

OK it doesn’t belong to us, it belongs to the Baptists. Who do you think the new ‘facility‘ would belong to? It would still belong to the Baptists but it is being set up in partnership with The Jericho Foundation – an employment training organisation and with Stockfield Community Association. (See September 4 2013 Ward Minutes, p. 7, which you can download here. )Ward Minutes 4.9.2013 – G.E. Hall Discussion The main functions would be to train for jobs in the catering training industry, with a cafe, a kitchen, a training kitchen, and computer training room. There will be a very large entrance/reception/waiting area. oh, and there would be a ‘community hall’ upstairs less than half the size of the Glynn Edwards Hall and some tiny rooms for community groups to hire. Check out the floor plans here:(Double Click to enlarge)

Ground Floor Plan AG Baptists 2013

Ground Floor Plan AG Baptists 2013

and here (double click to enlarge)

First Floor Plan - AG Baptists scheme 2013- cropped

(The upper Arthur Moore Hall is also due to be renovated, but the additional new floor space will be smaller than The Glynn Edwards Hall.)

Lets read on again, what else are we being offered?

Senior citizens, adults, teenagers and children can all have a piece of this great facility.

Er, wow … haven’t you always wanted a ‘piece of a great facility‘? Note how, like ‘development’ this word is overused. (Exactly how much further does this get us in information than the previous statement?)

A place to get support whether finding employment, further education or starting a business.

Ah-ha … the first specific: it is an employment training centre, so quite possibly you will get some of that, although you can also presently get help with finding a job at the Yardley Friendship Centre, a few doors away … do we need two places offering this service so close?

Residents can come together as a group for:

Social Support

Public Information

Group Activities

Now that’s pretty cool – we can all meet together and get information, talk about stuff, do things together … what a lovely idea. Oh wait … we can do all those at The Glynn Edwards Hall, just like we have been doing since 1924. check out the meetings there: public information at Acocks Green Neighbourhood Forum meetings – with all sorts of informative talks (see pic above) and at Ward meetings, group activities – Scouts, Pensioners, Weight Watchers, Mother and Toddler, take your pick … but it will be cramped – fewer of us will be able to meet together and there will be less room for any sort of activities.

Oh look … there’s more:

And many other purposes that will enrich the lives of the residents.

Bet your life is feeling ‘enriched’ just thinking about it. Bet you can’t wait for those ‘many other purposes’ … makes you want to sign that letter to get the lovely old Glynn Edwards knocked down right away so you can feat your eyes on the new ‘facilities’ thingy right now, doesn’t it? Wondered why they say ‘many other purposes’ rather than telling us what these ‘purposes’ are? Quite possibly because they haven’t a clue, and that was the best they could come up with?

And there’s more:

The chance to meet different people, make new friends, as well as learning about hidden passions and talents you may not have known you had.

Have you any idea at all what you are being offered that you cannot find in the present Glynn Edwards Hall? This is a place where many of us have come together as a community, over many years, discovering (if you like) a previously ‘hidden passion’ for caring for our area, for preserving the more attractive parts of it, keeping them from uncaring developers and building towards a Conservation Area to further help protect Acocks Green from such developers – a scheme that is likely to come to fruition by next April … if and this is a big if … if the Glynn Edwards is not demolished. Otherwise the destruction of that little corner of Acocks Green, where the Conservation Area is due to be centred, and its replacement by the ugly building you see here could mean that the Conservation Area is cancelled – is off, is over, doesn’t happen. This was the warning from Joe Holyoak, Birmingham Conservation architect who is helping oversee the scheme at the last Acocks Green Ward meeting on 23 October 2013. If we lose the Conservation Area we could lose other buildings round here which are only locally listed, or not listed at all. They will not be protected either. Which would you like to see go first: The Police Station, The Old Fire Station, The Great Western Pub (Not listed at all – note those great stained glass windows all nicely polished up now it is open again.)

Anything else on offer?

A local facilitywithin easy walking distance easily accessible for those of age or within walking distance.

Perhaps English would help here? A local facility for those of what age? What is the function of the word ‘or’ in this sentence?

However, setting aside literacy issues, note you are again being offered a facility. It is a ‘facility’ within ‘easy walking distance and easily accessible – Hello – The Glynn Edwards Hall is within easy walking distance and easily accessible to those who have received this leaflet.

There is however a very good reason why we call the present building a ‘hall’ and why this leaflet burbles on merrily about a ‘facility’ or a ‘development’. The ugly new building would remove the hall and replace it with employment training facilities which local people would be allowed to fit into, at a price. As they admitted at the Acocks Green Ward meeting on 4 September 2013, room hire fees to help pay that big two million pound development bill could be pricey) as and when it was not in use by The Jericho Foundation. They daren’t grace it with the name hall because what would replace it would be far meaner and far more cramped, so they are struggling to think what to call it.

Are you still inclined to think that this new building is ‘much needed’? Or do you think we need the old one more? What can you do if you would prefer to keep the old one? If you haven’t done so already please find a petition and sign it pronto (lots in local shops on the Yardley Road – laundrettes, florists, post officer, newsagents next to the Railway Station etc or in Acocks Green Costa) or please, even better dig out one of the model letters opposing the scheme which you have had delivered and bung it off to the address top right of the letter … or if you can’t put your hand on those letters you can still download this one, Letter to Justin Howell objecting to G.E. P.A. 2013 or, even easier, click here: comment on-line on the plan to demolish The Glynn Edwards here – look for ‘comment on-line’ The plan goes to Committee on 28 November – a decision will be made then your letters, comments and petition signatures will be counted until a few days before, but hurry.

Glynn Edwards Hall – Latest

October 25th, 2013

Glynn Edwards Hall - help!This planning application is to demolish the 1924 Grade A locally listed Glynn Edwards Hall and to replace it with a plain and featureless unemployment training centre. The proposed centre has been repeatedly described by the applicants as offering ‘facilities’ but, as admitted in the Ward Meeting of 4 September 2013, it is scheduled to be operated in partnership with The Jericho Foundation who provide unemployment training, and it obviously structured around their needs with a large ‘training kitchen’ and ITC ‘training centre, in an area of higher than average employment for Brum. The application is now likely to be heard by the Planning Committee on either 14 or 28 November when local people and conservationists will be presenting their opposition. Watch this space. For more on the background to this p.a., the struggle against it, the unconvincing rationalisations offered in its favour and images of the present and proposed appearance and street scene check out our previous pos

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So far Birmingham City Council Planning Department reports being overwhelmed by the number of letters and comments it has received on this application – as per usual the popular Glynn Edwards building is attracting plenty of attention and Planning Department consideration of the application has therefore been put back beyond the usual statutory three week turn-around time.

Apart from comments by local people there are also three important objections from English Heritage from W. Midlands Victorian Society and from The Twentieth Century Society

The seriousness of the position of this application in regard to Acocks Green’s planned Conservation Area was summed up by conservation architect Joe Holyoak at Acocks Green’s Ward meeting on 23 October 2013. Joe has been working on a conservation scheme for Acocks Green. He agreed that losing this building, which is fundamental to the appearance of the whole group of buildings on a prominent in the proposed area, could help undermine the scheme for a Conservation Area. Not having a Conservation Area will mean that Acocks Green’s buildings in general will continue to be helpless under many threats from developers: we are likely to lose more each year. Loss of the Glynn Edwards could therefore affect the whole future of Acocks Green.

This worrying scheme has attracted city wide attention and as from Thursday 24 October there are also pieces inThe Birmingham Post andBirmingham Mail(25 October) outlining the reasons for opposition to it.

If you were thinking of downloading our letter in order to send in an objection there is still time: the letter is available by clicking here: Letter to Justin Howell objecting to G.E. P.A. 2013 or, if in a rush, you can object on-line to The Glynn Edwards Hall p.a. here (See ‘Add comments here’) Hurry though – a report is now being written and to help save The Glynn Edwards you do need to get your objections in fast!

New Glynn Edwards Demolition Scheme. (Here we go again … )

September 15th, 2013

Yup. The silly season comes late to Acocks Green. The Glynn Edwards Hall Demolition Mob is at it again

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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

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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.)

Glynn Edwards Hall PA 2013 Present & Proposed Front Elevation - cropped
Now the whole street scene – existing and then proposed below (We strongly suggest you double click to view this at a larger size for more clarity.)

Glynn Edwards Hall Plans 2013 - East Street Elevation - Present & Proposed - cropped

Our Thoughts

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.

Glynn Edwards PA 2013 - present & proposed side elevation - cropped

Our Thoughts

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 …

G.E. Hall - Street Scene, Screen Shot - croppedHave 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 £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 £120,000 on plans. Moreover Companies House records show that the Heart of England Baptists Association has at least £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 £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, £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!

The Secret of Arthur Moore Hall

September 5th, 2013

Arthur Moore Hall (Mike Byrne) - cropped

Acocks Green Ward Meeting 4 September 2013 certainly had its moments. That was even without the councillors being startled by two passionately presented petitions on non Conservation related matters where usually there are no petitions: ‘It’s like buses, you wait for ages and two come together.’ Fortunately Acocks Green does passion though; we care about where we live. Squeezed somewhat hastily into a corner of Acocks Green Baptist Church (The previously advertised and famous Glynn Edwards Hall being suddenly and uncountably ‘double booked’ at the last minute’) the general public heard that the latest Glynn Edwards Hall demolition plan has just been delivered to Birmingham City Council Planning. (Not yet on weekly lists … we will let you know … )

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Now, one of the now standard justifications for demolishing the much loved Grade A locally listed Arts and Crafts Hall which makes an important contribution to the street scene on the corner of Yardley and Alexander Roads, is that somehow demolition will help protect its nearby sister Hall, the Statutory Grade II listed Arthur Moore Hall, also part of the Acocks Green Baptist Church complex of buildings and which is undoubtedly in need of some TLC. Here’s a couple of reasons why The Arthur Moore needs TLC:

Arthur Moore Hall - Damage to side window - cropped

 

 

This window has been in this state for a long time: it was photographed over a year ago, when it had probably already been like this for some time, and observed to be still broken on 4 September 2013.

 

 

 

 

Arthur Moore Hall - Poorly repaired chimney brickwork with plant growing out - colour intensified

 

And note this chimney … it has a shrub forcing apart the brickwork. This why the chimney is damp inside the building.

 

 

 

 

The Arthur Moore is suffering from damp through lack of basic maintenance and attention to problems like these, and it is clearly deteriorating because of these problems. We first highlighted the problem with the chimney and the window, together with other problems like leaking guttering over a year ago, in the summer o f 2012 – see our flicker file on our visit to the Baptist Buildings, summer 2012 It is notable that Nothing has been done since then.

So, we were unsurprised when sure enough the plan proposers came up with one of their favourite chestnuts: ”The Arthur Moore is falling down, falling down …’ (It gets quite catchy, no?) Er,, no it is not falling down. We’ve looked all over it – every room and every part both inside and out, with a leading Birmingham Conservation architect (Joe Holyoak) and the local MP (John Hemming) . Both have confirmed by email with us that the building is still remarkably solid, and that our estimate of around 120K spending on it being required, mainly because of damp penetration problems, but also because of needed improvements like a central heating boiler is about right. This could be done. We now know that The Heart of England Baptist Association, which covers Acocks Green, has £330,00 in available funds and gives out grants and loans for building repairs. Last year, Yardley Wood had £1,000, Stechford had a £1 320 recently, Shirley had nearly £3,000 and Chelmsley Wood had a cool £100,000. HEBA report on their good year and are looking at ways of streamlining their grant giving facilities … SeeHEBA Annual Report 2012 We estimate that the work to the window, the chimney and a leaky gutter would come in at around £1,000, so why have Acocks Green Baptists asked HEBA for nothing?

We put all of this to the Acocks Green Baptist committee delegates who admitted:

  • They had not carried out minor repairs because the congregation ‘could not afford’ them and no they had not approached HEBA for funds.
  • They appeared not to have discussed with the Acocks Green Baptist congregation their decision to leave the valuable and important Grade II listed building with damp penetration whilst arguing for its sister hall, The Glynn Edwards, to be demolished in the (convoluted) process of paying for renovation for the Arthur Moore.

When asked about the possibility of approaching HEBA for £120,000 the response stunned the audience. After hedging that HEBA had not got the funds (Yes it has. Their last report says so.) The next reason offered was that the building needed a lot more than £120,000 spending on it. It was stated that our estimates were wrong. It was a lotlotmore. (Think traditional builder sucking in of teeth.) The next logical question was put: sock it to us then – what else then did the building need – we were all ears, so what were the other problems apart from damp? John Daniels of Acocks Green Baptist Church refused to answer. ‘So it is a secret then?’ ‘Yes it is a secret’.

This was followed by cries from a stunned audience. ‘Why is it a secret’? Mr Daniels, looking rather (as one member of the audience noted later) as though we had asked him the colour of his underpants continued to defend his personal ‘secret’ in the face of our outrageous nosiness. He didn’t have to say he blurted out, looking slightly red faced. Eventually he came up with if he told us we might ‘nit pick’.

Mmmm up to this point the audience had possibly been wondering whether the Arthur Moore got a particularly embarrassing form of fungal infection, that is best not discussed in public? But ‘nit pic’??? The Arthur Moore has nits??? Ah well, in the days of the nitty Nora nurse that was maybe a bit … Poor Arthur Moore Hall.

So now we have ‘The secret of Arthur Moore Hall’ a truly Gothic little mystery concerning another much loved and (ever so slightly) crumbly, atmospheric 1903 Grade II listed building with, a number of winding passageways and, it seems, Acocks Green’s own dark secret.

The discussion turned to the consistent and puzzling evasiveness of the plan proposers. As one member of the audience put it in this whole saga, ‘Something seemed to be not being said.’ (‘With them it’s like un-peeling an onion layer by layer.’ one politically experienced member of the audience noted later.) Someone else observed that The Glynn Edwards was a ‘running sore’ in the community. Cllr Stewart Stacey (Lab Acocks Green) decided that enough was enough. The plan proposers he said needed to be more open and transparent in order for the neighbourhood to have a proper dialogue with them. So far this had not happened.

Will we get more transparency? Watch this space.

 

Acocks Green Smart Route: Latest!

August 1st, 2013
Warwick Road - for Smart Route - Cattle Pen Nr.  Oxford Rd.

The Dual Carriageway in Acocks Green Centre – Pedestrian View

The Smart Route through Acocks Green seems to have been on the agenda for ever. In fact we first started talking about the Smart Route in 2009 but we had been talking about re-designs for Acocks Green centre since long before that. Why might we want a redesign … take a look above. Attractive? Inviting? Best use of space? Pedestrian friendly? Cyclist friendly? Driver friendly? Anyone friendly? Can’t we do better than this layout which seems to have been slapped down in the 1960s and left undisturbed since? Yes we can.

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  • What’s a Smart Route? A Smart Route is a route, on a main thoroughfare which combines the red route approach (double red lines, no stopping) with easy progress for buses.
  • What does this mean for Acocks Green? It means a lot more than the bare description above. A lot of money is being invested in this particular Smart Route and we get a lot of goodies thrown in with the basic requirement. Our Smart Route is now set to run from just before Station Road up to Dolphin Lane. The central reservation starting at Sainsbury’s will disappear. There will be a single carriageway and a 20 mile an hour zone. A zone is stronger in effect than a simple speed limit and involves traffic calming measures. All the new space either side (look at the clunky layout and wasted space above) will be used for extra pedestrian space, diagonal parking bays, cycle parks and an avenue of trees. Out will go clunky street furniture too. In will come a new streamlined, ‘de-cluttered’ look.

Check out the two preliminary plans for us here:

Acocks Green Consultation Smart Route (July 2013) 1 of 2 – lower part of High Street

and

Acocks Green Consultation – Smart Route (July 2013) 2 of 2 -upper part of High Street

NB these will download at 36.2% of full size, but by using the drop down arrow next to this size information at the top you can chose the viewing size that is comfortable for you, and then use the blue arrows at the bottom and right side of the image to move in and out of sections.

Do bear in mind that these are both still works in progress. The consultation has not finished until Friday 16 August, and there will be two events in Acocks Green Library on 8th and 10th August in connection with the Consultation.

You can also check out the Birmingham City Council’s Be Heard website here. NB consultation date now extended to 23 August (Remember though that this contains another nine longer-term plan sheets which are not relevant to Acocks Green centre . Our Acocks Green focussed pick above is to give you the vital info for the centre.

Points from Meeting Between Local Groups & BCC Transportation on 26.7.2013

Aspiration to Make Acocks Green a ‘Blueprint’

We were told that it is intended to make Acocks Green the first suburb of a new kind in the city. This is why they are keen to get it right. Other suburbs will get this re-design treatment later.

Surfaces

Warwick Road - damaged surface near Pound Stretcher
Warwick Road near Pound Stretchers – poorly repaired paving

It is planned that all those broken and ugly surfaces will be replaced by small, fairly smooth small blocks of granite-like brick, approximately 600 x 400 ml, and slightly darker bricks for kerb stones. This is a picture of a damaged pavement surface near Pound Stretcher. The new small blocks will be simple to place and easy to maintain. We will not see this sort of sight again.

Granite setts for Smart Route Paving-2

New granite style blocks – NB this is a guess at final appearance based on the blocks which are available for viewing.

The new blocks will not be ultra-smooth, in order to avoid the ice-rink effect in bad weather: there will be a little grip, but at the same time they will avoid the opposite extreme and problem of a rough York Stone type surface used in some heritage areas, which can make it very difficult for disabled people to manoeuvre any sort of wheeled aid and difficult for prams and pushchairs.

Parking

Whether it is because of the impossibility of parking near where you want to be, or because you are annoyed by where someone else has parked, parking gets everyone in Acocks Green going as a topic. We are can all talk for England (Well, Acocks Green anyway!) about it. We will get diagonal parking bays behind the double red lines. These will operate on a free short stay basis of probably an hour (still to be decided) and no return within one hour. (Have a look at the system on the Stratford Road in Shirley to see how this can work very successfully.) This is to give you time to stop off and grab those bits and pieces or do your banking or drop into a cafe or the library without cruising round for hours looking for a spot. What happens if an hour is not enough? It is possible that Station Road will become two way up to and including the car park entrance there, in order to make it easier to use this car park. There will be a six to twelve month trial to see how this would operate.

Street Lighting

LED Street lighting - eg for Smart Route

Street lighting, like other street furniture, will be in green and gold and in heritage style design. Where appropriate some lights will be of the LED type – see left. This is more energy efficient and gives a softer but more directed type of light, whereas traditional sodium street lighting means that a lot of light simply adds to light pollution up in the sky and causes glare for drivers and pedestrians.

There is a report on a study on the effects of introducing LED lighting here.

Crossings

We still have some reservations about using pedestrian controlled lights where there is already a twenty mile an hour zone. However, if there are ‘assisted’ crossings these will be straight across. The staggered cattle pen crossing near Oxford and Victoria Roads will go. It is likely that there will be ‘stub’ Pelican lights. These work as normal but are less obtrusive, see picture.

Station Road and Car Park on Station Road

There is a possibility of making it possible to enter the Station Road car park directly from the Warwick Road, i.e. of making this section of Station Road two-way (As far as the car park only.) If you are in support of this suggestion it is important to indicate it on the form which you return. There is then likely to be a year’s trial of this approach to the parking problem in Acocks Green.

Oxford Road/Warwick Road/Victoria Road Area

The available draft plan suggests that there will be no right turn out of Oxford Road. This has already been dropped as an idea (As has the Woodcock Lane no right turn.) Local people have pointed out that vehicles emerging out of these roads will then be sent into the general traffic flow of The Warwick Road, causing more congestion than is needed. However, there is a locally well-known difficulty here. This is an awkward, slightly staggered junction and there is a history of accidents. Narrowing the road and imposing the 20 mph zone should help, but a small island for further traffic calming has several times been suggested as the answer. This seems better than doing nothing, but would take additional funds and can have the effect of discouraging pedestrians.

Is there any other way of dealing with the problem here? We liked the highly successful and much praised Shared Space ‘island’ scheme that is in use at Poynton. Our Transportation friends at BCC are currently looking into this kind of an approach. (This one itself is more expensive and elaborate than would be needed: horses for courses, every Shared Space scheme is different.

 

 

Street Furniture – General

All street furniture will follow the green and gold theme – green for Acocks Green as most of us voted for on the Acocks Green Village face book page, but street furniture will be kept to a minimum wherever possible. This is in line with the new less cluttered smoother layout look for streets which has been shown to be easier to maintain and to help bring people back to suburban shopping streets.

Guard railings are very expensive to maintain and areas with heavy amounts of guard railing have now been shown to have higher accident rates because the railings encourage drivers to speed and can obscure vision. They were originally largely introduced to prevent pavement parking, but there are better ways.

Other Questions

  • Who came up with these ideas? The ideas have been formalised by transportation engineers and landscape design specialists using recent research and thinking set out in guides like Manual for Streets 2, tested by safety experts and costed for feasibility. However, most of the keys ideas, like the narrowed down road, the parking bays and the trees come originally from local people who, together with local traders, politicians council officials and Centro representatives have been talking about what the centre really needs since The Green was saved from a poorly thought out scheme in 2004. ‘The Smart Route’ by that name though, has been under discussion since 2009.
  • When will this start and how long will it go on for? The scheme is scheduled to start in the spring of next year, probably around April. It will finish in March 2015 – it is essential that it finishes at this time because this is a condition of the agreed government funding.
  • What will happen to the shopping centre whilst all this is going on? The shopping centre will stay fully open with access to all frontages. Road works are likely to run only from 9 am to 3 pm.
  • I thought Brum was hard up. Where’s the money coming from? It is coming from a special Government fund for projects to improve roadways: ‘The Local Sustainable Transport Fund’ and from Centro, the bus company. This is not Council money.
  • What are the politics of this? Where do the parties stand? We are pleased to be able to report that the Acocks Green centre re-design project has been non-party political from the word go. In 2012 Conservative, Green, Labour and Lib-Dem Council election candidates all made pro Smart Route statements on the Acocks Green Focus Group website. Members of all four parties have been attending consultations, meetings and events on the Smart Route for years. The incoming 2012 City Council Labour administration picked up the plans from the Conservative administration and carried on.
  • This is all very well, but haven’t you noticed the problems at either end of this stretch? Dudley Park Road layout and parking is a mess, and as for that triangular area as you come into Olton Hollow, at the bottom of the hill out of the shopping centre towards Solihull … the accident rate is appalling! There is to be a separate review of the Olton Hollow situation very shortly and there was some further consultation with local residents and traders in that section straight after the Smart Route discussion on 26 July. The area of the Dudley Park Road exit on to The Warwick Road is part of a bigger and more complex problem which we have been around (often quite literally, clutching clip boards, cameras, leading various experts, etc) for years. The trouble is that DPR impinges on a different discussion to do with traffic flows around The Green. The Green also needs a re-think . A re-design for The Green area is also still on the cards when the funding can be found but finding a solution which suits everyone – and most importantly keeps the feature of The Green – will be very complex and costly, far more so than the straight stretch of the Warwick Road, which was why, in 2010 a big meeting of delegates from local groups in Acocks Green finally fixed on ‘de-dualling’, i.e. removing the dual carriageway and making a two way road, as the first priority to get things moving.

Have your say

Download the feed back form here:

Acocks Green Smart Route – Blank Consultation Response Form (Summer 2013)

The ‘Spendid Achievement’ of J. Glynn Edwards

June 5th, 2013
J. Glynn Edwards in 1923

The Rev J. Glynn Edwards, Minister of Acocks Green Baptist Church in 1923*

Ever wondered who was the Glynn Edwards, who the now famous Glynn Edwards Hall in Acocks Green was named after? We have the exclusive lo-down, including an image of the man himself, above. (John) Glynn Edwards came to Acocks Green in 1921 from St Mary’s Church in Norwich. He remained as Minister of Acocks Green Baptist Church for thirteen years. Accounts we have referred to before suggest he had already made a name for himself as both a pioneering theological thinker and a kindly man. However, it seems it was in Acocks Green that he was to really leave his mark. He became determined that the Acocks Green should have a fine new Baptist Hall and apparently with little support and in the early post-war years when money must have been tight, he threw all his energies into the raising of funds for his vision. The Hall was completed only three years after he arrived in Acocks Green. (The picture above is of Glynn Edwards at a meeting, a year before the Hall was completed.) The book extract below tells us that:

January 31st 1925, will long be remembered as a time of jubilant gladness for the Hall was opened free of debt. From a human standpoint this splendid achievement was mainly due to the optimism and faith of the Pastor who, from the very first, with very few others, believed it possible, and whose persistence and enthusiasm never wavered.

You can read the rest below. It is from a book by Arthur S. Langley called Birmingham Baptists Past and Present(London: Kingsgate, 1939).

J. Glynn Edwards & the Glynn Edwards Hall (from Arthur S. Langley, Birmingham Baptists Past & Present

And here, again, is that Hall, the vision of Pastor Edwards, no not the most special building in Birmingham, or even in Acocks Green, but a building of distinctive character, still welcoming as a meeting place, still a key community point: the place where the local community, Baptists and non-Baptists together, gather for social functions and to discuss matters of community concern and still fitting as well with its surroundings now as it did in 1924. The campaign to save The Hall continues. Watch this space for updates.

Acocks Green Baptist Church Hall - Side and Front Elivation, in context with AG Baptist Church

*Image of J. Glynn Edwards from a picture of the Birmingham Baptist Executive in 1923 in William Finnemore, The Story of a Hundred Years: 1823-1923, Being the Centenary Booklet of the Birmingham Baptist Missionary Society (Oxford: Hall, 1923).

Glynn Edwards Hall – Stockfield’s Secret List

May 7th, 2013

Stockfield Secret

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 £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 £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.

Glynn Edwards Plan 2013 - collage

Glynn Edwards Hall – Existing Building front and side and Options A & B front and sides compared.

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.

Glynn Edwards Hall - side elevations old & new 2013

Glynn Edwards Hall – side elevations: existing and options A & B 2013

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.

Glynn Edwards Hall - Stockfield Two Option Form: Demolition or Demolition?

Glynn Edwards Hall – Stockfield Two Option Form: Demolition or Demolition?

Below is our new, improved, options form with the missing Option C: retention of existing building, included.

Glynn Edwards Hall - the Form with Option C & Options Images

Glynn Edwards Hall – the Form with Option C & Options Images – double click on form for clearer view

You can download the pre-completed form here:

Glynn Edwards Hall Pre-Plan Consultation Option C (Keep Existing Hall)

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.

 

Glynn Edwards Hall P.A. is Withdrawn! (But … )

March 23rd, 2013
Baptist Hall Acocks Green (Glyn Edwards 1924)

Learn below how the pounds have been flying out over the years on unwanted and abandoned plans to replace this popular building.

Finally, after much waiting and wondering how much longer this could be drawn out the extremely unpopular plan to demolish the popular Glynn Edwards Hall in Acocks Green has been withdrawn: check it out here: Glynn Edwards Hall demolition plan withdrawn However, just when you thought it was safe to get back into the Baptist Church Hall (without first checking to see if those impressively solid Arts and Crafts style rafters underneath the modern ceiling insulation tiling are about to come down about your ears) … it seems the plan proposers have already been busy again.

If you live around the Glynn Edwards you may indeed have already been one of the lucky recipients of this letter, which we reproduce below, explaining how it will be business as usual as Glynn Edwards Hall Demolition Plan Proposal Mark three hundred and something will swing into action some time or other, but doubtless not before lots more loot has flow out of the Stockfield Community Association coffers rather than been spent on improvements to the Estate.

Stockfield Baptist Letter March 2013-1

Simply double- click this image to read the letter clearly

Everyone concerned about the Glynn Edwards, but Stockfield residents in particular, may be interested to read below about the money which has flown out from Estate in the past few years, without a penny being seen by residents. How much more is to be spent in this way?

Stockfield Spending – Glynn Edwards Hall Plans: 2005 -Present

In 2005 we learn from the 2005 Stockfield Community Association Report that :

The Association is actively pursuing the provision of a Community Facility and other Community Programmes for the benefit of residents of the Stockfield Estate. The Association has set aside a reserve of £250,000 to meet the associated costs, of which £160,000 remains unspent.

You can read that report the Stockfield Community Association – Annual Report 2005 here – see p. 10.

What happened to that £160,000? By December 2007 this figure had been boosted to £186,021.00 out of which £16,835.00 had been spent. See p.10 (page no. printed on doc.) of Stockfield Community Association Accounts – End 2007 In 2008 £15,302.00 of £169,86.00 was spent – See p. 11 of the report: Stockfield Community Association Accounts – End 2008

After that things start to liven up more because in this year an additional £96,111.00 was transferred into the ‘Community Facility’ account to bring it back up to £250,000. By this point our good friends at Apec Architects had been engaged and were beginning to carry out ‘feasibility studies’. However, architects who carrying out feasibility studies and drawing up plans do not come cheap. Various meetings were held and material was produced. Matters really took off, along with those flying pounds, at the end of 2010 when, as we see on p 9 and p. 10 forStockfield Community Association Accounts – End 2010 a sum of £41,647.00 was spent on the eternally planned ‘community facility’.* The logical conclusion though would seem to be that this is the sum which funded glossy designs and a 3D model which were produced for an earlier, informal, plan shown in the neighbourhood, but not submitted to Planning, in 2010. During 2011 a further plan was drawn up for display, complete with many drawings and a 3D model and this became the plan just abandoned, which was submitted to Birmingham City Council Planning Department as a Planning Application last June. We learn on pages 10 and 11 of the Stockfield – Accounts – End 2011 that a further £28,567.00 was paid to ACBC Design Works for works on the never appearing ‘community facility’* There is probably more spending to be revealed in the pipe line. This is information which appears within the public realm. Next accounts, which will cover 2012, are due to be filed at Companies House on 31 March 2013. (Will they appear on time, or will they as has been a pattern with Stockfield recently, be filed late?) We also include the above information here because accounts no longer appear on the SCA website.

So, to date: how we are doing?

  • £16,835.00
  • £15,302.00
  • £41,647.00
  • £28,567.00
  • £102,351.00

Wow! We only have accounting information for up to the end of 2011 but So far Stockfield would appear to have spentat least £102,351.00on a non-appearing community facility which involves demolishing a much loved and attractive church hall in order to impose something new upon a community which clearly (even their own letter somewhat haltingly acknowledges this) does not want it!! To date they are nowhere with this scheme, but have now announced that they are literally going back to the drawing board? Why? If you live on Stockfield what else would you like your money to be spent on? Is everything in your property up-to-date and working? No repairs needed? No additional facilities you would like or need in your own home on Stockfield? If the situation is otherwise why not drop a line to Stockfield and tell ’em now? You can do this simply by emailing the contact given on the letter: info@daphnefrancis.co.uk We are sure they would love to hear from you with your alternative suggestions about how another 100K might be spent before the board goes back to its favourite hobby of funding unwanted plans for the Glynn Edwards.

The Stockfield/Baptist Rationale

Two reasons have been continually put forth, with the plan proponents frequently and somewhat dizzingly switching between the two. Now two separate and unrelated reasons or explanations for something generally attract suspicion don’t they? Don’t the police tend to say: ‘Which is it then?’

Reason 1: ‘Facilities’

The area needs more ‘facilities’. Exactly what ‘facilities’ might these be? This was seldom spelled out. Closer inspection of the last plans strongly suggested that since most of the facilities would have been taken up by the well funded Jericho organisation most of the money would have been going into a Jericho employment training centre, complete with Jericho style ‘training’ kitchen, a cafe facing the road (which is partly why the existing Glynn Edwards ‘had’ to go) and five counselling rooms. Five counselling rooms? It was somewhat implied in one meeting held by the proposers that this was for the dysfunctional, chaotic drug-ridden unemployed lot of us who live around here: drug addiction counselling came up as a theme rather a lot. However, police have informally confirmed that there is no marked drug problem in the vicinity of the Glynn Edwards and council statistics show that unemployment in Acocks Green is slightly lower than average. We now have it on good authority though that, despite some earlier signs of support, Jericho have now changed their minds, stated that they do not wish to have a facility in Acocks Green anyway. After the long pause when council officers first made it clear to the plan proposers that the present design would be recommended for refusal, this about-turn by Jericho may go also go quite a long way towards explaining the present climb down.

Reason 2: ‘The Stat Listed 1903 Arthur Moore Hall next door is falling down. This is the only way to save it’

Oh yeah? A party of us, including local MP John Hemming and well known Birmingham Conservation Architect and Conservation Panel member Joe Holyoak visited the very lovely but battered Arthur Moore Hall last August

Arthur Moore - Upstairs Hall - Chimney Damage

Everyone agreed (and Joe and John were happy to put it in writing) that The Arthur Moore isnot falling down. What it does need fairly urgently is some TLC. For example, as any property owner will tell you, properties tend to become damp and to develop mould patches when damp is allowed to enter unchecked: a stitch in time saves nine.

Arthur Moore Hall - Damage to side window - enlargedPerhaps, for example, there could have been a congregation whip around to pay for some sticky tape to cover over this window? The damp entering here is clearly responsible for some of the damage inside the upper hall. The link above shows in much more detail many similar, and even worse, instances of the same kind of problem. Obviously sticky tape will not see to all the problems, but a little modest attention would have helped some of these problems getting worse. However, in 2009 it was planned that Stockfield would buy a lease on The Arthur Moore. This could have made a proper facility for Stockfield people (Rather than an unemployment/counselling centre … ) and given Acocks Green Baptists the right funding to do up the Arthur Moore, which we estimated needed, and still needs fairly urgently, around £100,000-£120,000 spent on it. It is a reasonable sum of money … about the same as that which has now been thrown at unwanted plans for the Glynn Edwards.

Who suggested that the only way to fund the relatively minor repairs on The Arthur Moore was to demolish and rebuild The Glynn Edwards and then to make money on that building by leasing most of it to Jericho? This wonderfully contorted sounding scheme was the idea of the architects’ firm. We could say more on these charming individuals. (People who have met them will know what we mean.) For now we are biding our time and waiting to see whether the Baptist/Stockfield letter is a purely a face-saving exercise with no serious plans behind it and also waiting to see whether or not the same architects’ firm will be engaged again if the letter means what it says.

Watch this space.

* Presumably ACBC Design Works which appears in the 2010 and 2010 SCA Accounts is a misprint for Apec, or was there also another organisation involved; maybe one of the parties involved would care to clarify?

Our Fab Acocks Green Calendar – Just a Few Left

December 12th, 2012

Brendon’s Tree – our April pic

Support Acocks Green Focus Group and Acocks Green BID in our work to improve Acocks Green by buying a beautiful Acocks Green calendar: great pictures all of Acocks Green, all by local photographers: can Acocks Green look gorgeous? Yes it can. Yes it does. See our samples here:

The Inn on the Green: Bronze Award for Acocks Green in Bloom Entry – our August pic

Acocks Green in the Snow – our December pic

Alexander Road Sunset – our February pic

Victorian house in Acocks Green – our September pic

Hazelwood Road – our June pic

The calendar is £7.50, and it comes with a date grid space to write down each day’s appointment and details of local meetings and local politicians’ surgeries. How do you get your hands on one of these and brighten your house for the next year?

Look out for us at the next Acocks Green Farmer’s Market on 15 December, or check out Jeffries or Sainsbury’s in the Village, or Shah’s Newsagents next to Acocks Green Railway Station. Can’t make any of those? Drop us a line on ‘Contact Us’ and we will arrange for you to pay on-line and post you one.

Know someone in Acocks Green, or who comes from Acocks Green, who you have not yet bought a Christmas Pressie for … well that’s another problem solved, isn’t it?

Glynn Edwards Hall Saga: The Mystery of the Missing Listing

August 3rd, 2012

Update: This story is still ongoing. At some point the Application will go to Planning Committee for a decision. (Controversial applications are normally decided in public by the Planning Committee, which is 15 councillors from a cross section of parties, and usually after a short speeches from both applicants and the opposition.) No date has yet been set for Committee. (The provisional 13 September was cancelled.) This is an unusually long-running application. Apparently the architects are still deliberating, but leaving The Planning Department, Acocks Green Baptists, Stockfield Community Association, and the rest of us, all in the dark. Some aspects of this story are starting to look increasingly odd. There will be another full new post shortly. (This update written 19 October 2012.)

 

 

Stop Press 1 – look out for our new ‘Save Glynn Edwards Hall’ petition – now at Jeffries Hardware, in the village, more venues coming.

Stop Press 2 See our illustrated report on our visit to all the Acocks Green Baptist buildings This was a very interesting visit, suggesting, perhaps, most importantly that (1) The very attractive, stat listed, Arthur Moore Hall needs some urgent maintenance work because of damp problems. Help is needed to find money for this but (2) The problems involved are, thankfully, relatively minor. Repair to guttering, a chimney and a broken window plus central heating installed upstairs would all make a welcome difference.

With over 200 comments now logged with Planning the Glynn Edwards Hall is becoming not only the most hotly contested plan in Acocks Green for decades, but, currently, the biggest Planning Application show in town.

Apart from the desire of most to conserve as opposed to demolish, this charming local building which belongs in a set with the statutorily listed buildings on the site, one particular point has been a bone of contention. Every time members of the community have mentioned that the Glynn Edwards Hall is locally listed Grade A the developers have dismissed this, using the argument that there is no sign of the Grade A listing on the Birmingham City Council Local List website. The answer that we had been advised by the Conservation Department that the building was locally listed Grade A, and, even, the point that the BCC official Conservation Officer’s Report makes this point were repeatedly shrugged away on the basis that the on-line list does not mention it.

We can now clear this mystery up, once and for all. The Glynn Edwards IS, beyond a shadow of a doubt, locally listed Grade A. The public domain document, from 1991, supplied to us by BCC Conservation, which is shown in a screen shot above, and available for downloading in its entirety, at the end of this post, proves this.

The story is as follows: the Baptist Church (1913) and The Glynn Edwards Hall (1924) were locally listedtogether in 1991, as a single batch local listing, at Grade A – Item 12 out of a number of items for Acocks Green (Item 11 was Acocks Green Police Station, Grade B) If you look carefully, at the screen shot of the typed document above, you will see that, in fact the second paragraph here is describing the Glynn Edwards Hall, which is the corner building on the plot. Indeed it even gets slightly more attention in this listing description than does the Church itself Later on the church and the Arthur Moore Hall (also listed in this batch) were put forward for, and achieved, Statutory Listing Grade II. It would seem that, technically, though they don’t need it, they are still, also, locally listed at Grade A. This entire listing, including for the Glynn Edwards Hall, is as valid as the day it was made. The reason why the Glynn Edwards did not appear on the Local List on the internet was because its old typed listing document, above, was not on computer and was, wrongly, filed only as part of the data for the Statutory Listing of the other two buildings. Conservation had another list they used, saying the building was on their A list, but the building was missed off the on-line list because the listing document was, in effect, lost.

Incidentally, both buildings are by the architect F. B. Andrews, and both are described as having Arts and Crafts style features.

Why does this matter? A listing matters when a building goes before Planning Committee. A Grade A local listing says, in effect: ‘this building matters a lot’. It sends a strong signal to Planning Committees to think very carefully indeed before authorising a plan which would result in demolition.

However, this is not the end of the story. In recognition of this serious admission, and the controversy it has caused, BCC Conservation have now withdrawn the entire local list from the BCC website because it is incomplete and misleading. We are advised that the list will remain withdrawn until it is properly amended to show the listing of the Glynn Edwards Hall, Acocks Green. Instead, on this page, note the message:

A copy of the Locally Listed Buildings in Birmingham is available on request and will be online shortly.

Here is the famous missing document, in its entirety. Again, note this is a batch listing document, for various buildings in Birmingham. Look for item 12. on page 5

Glynn Edwards Hall – Grade A listing document

The Plan Application will probably now go to Committee on 30 August. view the Plan and add comments here If you would like to view missing documents in the on-line documents list on these BCC Plan pages see our list of downloadable docs in our earlier posting here