Casework: 2013 - 2015

A review of some of our casework between 2013 and 2015.

December 2015

Old Steam Mill, Corn Hill, Wolverhampton

Grade II, William Fairbairn, c1851 The brick ceilings, metal framework and cast iron roof trusses of this imposing building were noted as an important early example of fireproofing in an industrial building by Fairbairn, who also designed the famous contemporary mills at Saltaire, Yorkshire. We had previously campaigned for the preservation of the Steam Mill, when it was threatened with demolition for the extension to the Metro, and indeed by 2014 we understood that plans had been altered to ensure the building’s incorporation and adaptation for hotel use. However, earlier fire damage to the mill had resulted in extensive structural weakness, with exterior walls supported by scaffolding and Corn Hill had been closed to through traffic since 2008. Sadly in October 2015 the surviving parts of the structure were demolished on the grounds of safety, so the entire listed building has now been lost. The resulting significant impact on the historic industrial character of the conservation area has compounded the loss in 1989 of the nearby Union Mill. Our concern is now to ensure the restoration of the surviving sack warehouse to the Steam Mill, which stands on the opposite side of the street in a burned out state, but is the sole remaining industrial building on Corn Hill.

Zara’s, 80 Broad Street, Birmingham

Grade II, partly by J.J.Bateman, 1863, with gate piers by Martin and Chamberlain, 1869. Earlier in 2015 we objected strongly to the construction of an unauthorised large smoking shelter on the forecourt of this elegant Classical building. 80 Broad Street was originally built as the Islington Glassworks in 1815, but adapted and extended in the 1860s as a lying-in hospital. This shelter was removed but any thought that this matter had been resolved conclusively was short-lived, as in November 2015 a new, even larger shelter was erected along the main street frontage and inappropriate signage was fixed to the façade of the listed building. Neither enjoys consent. We have strongly objected to these unwelcome disfigurements of the listed building and hope that enforcement action by Birmingham City Council for the removal of both shelter and signage will be swift and effective.

Former Unity Works, 39-52 Vittoria Street, Birmingham

Grade II, c1866 extended by J.P. Osborne 1898. The Unity Works comprise a typical fine group of Victorian factory buildings at the heart of the Jewellery Quarter Conservation Area. After years of vacancy and neglect proposals have now been brought forward for residential conversion of the site. Whilst most of the buildings would be retained and preserved, a 19th century shopping wing in a rear courtyard has been proposed for demolition. We objected to the loss of this historic fabric as part of the ongoing and regrettable erosion of character of the Quarter’s industrial heritage. We were also concerned that consent for complete residential conversion of an industrial building in this part of the Quarter, not permitted under current council policy, would set a precedent, which would be both hard to reverse and contribute to the accelerating loss of specialist metal manufacturing in the conservation area. The poor state of a significant part of the built heritage of the Quarter is the subject of recent independent reports, and we understand that policy on future uses for land and property here is to be reviewed by the local authority. However, we are keen to ensure that past campaigns to retain the industrial character of the Jewellery Quarter, which have been hard won by this society and others over the last thirty years, do not get overlooked in the current drive to regenerate and develop the area.

August 2015

Former Technical School, Crockett’s Lane, Smethwick, Sandwell

Grade II, F.J.Gill 1910 This fine Edwardian Baroque building is the focus of the recently designated Crockett’s Lane Conservation Area adjacent to Victoria Park in Smethwick. It is grouped with two locally listed buildings, the former Girls’ School of 1898 by the same architect, and a former board school of 1883-4 by J.P.Sharp. All three buildings were until 2013 on a campus of Sandwell College which has now relocated elsewhere. The site was subsequently cleared of later buildings in anticipation of redevelopment. Outline plans for residential conversion of the listed and locally listed buildings together with new housing on the cleared site appear sympathetic to the historic structures, but at our site visit in May 2015 the woefully inadequate security of the vacant buildings was highlighted along with an appalling level of vandalism across the site. We have written to the local authority to express our concerns at the current position, and to ensure that appropriate detailed plans for the site can be produced and implemented before further harmful deterioration takes place. Hopefully the site will now be properly secured and it will be possible for the damage done, particularly to the marble hall of the listed former Technical School, to be made good.

7-12 Bartholomew Row, Birmingham

Grade II, Georgian houses with façade of c1855 and rear additions of c1855 and 1894 This short terrace comprises some of the few remaining historic buildings on Birmingham’s Eastside. The development of these plots between Bartholomew Row and Fox Street during the 19th century represents a typical Birmingham building story which is now a relative rarity. The once fashionable Georgian town houses were adapted for commercial and industrial use, with workshops erected on the former rear gardens. Here metal working took place in shopping wings built alongside a malt house, which also survives in a much altered state. We have previously strongly opposed plans for demolition of all the buildings on the site. However, current proposals are for the conservation of the listed buildings, retaining many historic features, and their adaptation to create student accommodation with studios, workshops and offices. We have accepted that for this project to be viable there will need to be major residential development in the form of a 16 storey tower on an adjacent vacant site, but we hope that as a result this remarkable complex of historic buildings will gain a new purpose in a fast changing part of the city.

Claughton Centre, Blower’s Green Road, Dudley

Unlisted, Barrowcliff and Allcock 1904 The former Upper Standard School is a little known Edwardian work by these Loughborough architects, whose previous buildings included the grade II listed Carnegie Library in their home town. They won a competition with their design for this attractive, well detailed Jacobean style brick and buff terracotta building with a varied roofline, which is a landmark on a much used approach road to the southern end of Dudley town centre. Many original features such as windows, chimneys and cupolas survive along with the unusual colonnade by the girls’ entrance. We have strongly objected to current proposals for total demolition of this attractive building and its replacement with an unremarkable housing development. Until recently the former school was used for offices and the building seems to lend itself well to adaptation for commercial or residential purposes. Dudley can ill afford to lose key historic buildings such as this and we have applied to Historic England for the building to be added to the Statutory List.

April 2015

St Stephen, Selly Park, Birmingham

Grade II, Martin and Chamberlain 1870-1. John Henry Chamberlain was Birmingham’s most important Gothic Revival architect. In partnership with William Martin, he designed several key buildings in the city including ‘Highbury’ a house for Joseph Chamberlain (no relation), the City Library (demolished in 1974 and replaced by the Central Library now also awaiting destruction), the School of Art (now grade I), and the renowned series of board schools. St Stephen is Chamberlain’s only Anglican church in Birmingham, and an important landmark in Selly Park Conservation Area. The current active congregation are developing the church with considerable impact on the historic fabric. In 2012 we objected to the design of the west end foyer extension of the church and the creation of a new entrance, but following the grant of consents this first phase of works is currently under construction. Throughout we have maintained our opposition to the proposed lime rendering of Chamberlain’s fine red brick interior walls and the removal of the font, and are pleased that after years of discussion these extremely damaging changes have been withdrawn from the proposals; the brickwork is to be cleaned and the font is to be relocated within the church. It is regrettable that all the nave pews will be removed, despite our objection, and a new floor with heating system installed. However, one example pew and the dado panelling to the nave walls are to be retained, and the Minton floor tiles in the sanctuary are to be exposed and restored.

Manor House, Bristol Road, Northfield, Birmingham

Unlisted, mainly by George Gadd from 1894. The Georgian core of Manor House is one of the oldest structures in this part of Birmingham. Close to Bournville, the house was extensively remodelled as a residence for the famous Cadbury family by George Gadd from 1894, using a Tudor style with tall brick chimneys and timber framed gables. It was also considerably extended as a hall of residence for the University of Birmingham in the mid 20th century. The unlisted building has stood vacant and vandalised for the past decade in the midst of a new housing development throughout the extensive grounds, and so we have long been concerned about its future. Although we were heartened to learn of proposals for the adaptation of the Georgian and Victorian parts of Manor House to form apartments, the building suffered a devastating fire in July 2014. Whilst much panelling in the principal rooms and most of the roofs have sadly been lost, damage to the structure was not as severe as first indicated, and the chimneys, staircase and stained glass to the hall have all survived. We are pleased that the owners are undertaking remedial works to stabilise the structure, and hope that there will now be sympathetic repair of the historic fabric, so that the proposals for residential adaptation can once again be considered.

103 Colmore Row, Birmingham

The former National Westminster Bank, a 22 storey tower completed in 1974, stands as a Brutalist building in the heart of the Colmore Row Conservation Area with some of Birmingham’s most important Victorian buildings as near neighbours, such as the Grand Hotel (grade II*, mainly 1876-8 by Thomas Plevins) and the former Eagle Star Insurance offices (grade I, 1900 by W.R.Lethaby and J. L. Ball). Whilst we defer to the Twentieth Century Society for comment on the loss of the present building, we objected in 2008 to proposals for a replacement 35 storey tower, which was granted consent but never constructed. The current proposal for the site is to construct a 26 storey tower, rising from Colmore Row with a glazed ‘winter garden’ to the frontage, which we consider to be unsuitable in this important location of mainly Victorian and Edwardian commercial and public buildings. We have also objected to proposals for the creation of a temporary public space on the site following demolition of the present tower. In our view such a move is unacceptable without an agreed replacement building to enhance the street scenes and character of the conservation area.

August 2014

The Hawthorns, Birmingham Road, West Bromwich, Sandwell

Grade II, of 1850 extended 1903. We were very concerned by earlier plans to completely demolish this fine house next to West Bromwich Albion Football Ground. We hope that current proposals will lead to sustainable restoration of this now derelict building as a restaurant and take-away, though the loss of one of the 1903 side extensions and a rear service wing is still regrettable.

Holy Trinity, Belbroughton, Bromsgrove District

Grade II*, medieval, restored in 1847-8 by J.M.Derick, north nave of 1894-8 by Bodley and Garner. We commented on plans for installation of kitchen and toilet facilities in the west end of this large church, recommending amendments to details in a scheme which will be far less damaging than the previously proposed extension to the north nave.

‘Sunbeamland’, Paul Street, Wolverhampton

Unlisted, mainly of 1900 by Alfred Eaton Painter. We commented on proposals for adaptation to residential use of this long derelict landmark, the former Sunbeam cycle factory. We particularly wish to see earlier structures on the site retained, notably remains of a Japanning works, as well as distinctive features such as some workshop windows.

St John the Evangelist, Kenilworth, Warwick District

Grade II*, of 1851-2 by Ewan Christian. We have objected to the complete removal of pews from the nave and south aisle of this church and the replacement of the wooden west doors with glass. Although the sanctuary fittings and tiling are now to be retained, we have commented on future treatment of the previously relocated chancel screen.

80 Broad Street, Birmingham

Grade II, Georgian glassworks, extended 1863 by J.J.Bateman for a hospital, with railings and gatepiers of 1869 by Martin and Chamberlain. We objected to a retrospective planning application for construction of a large canopy and shelter in front of this building. Although permission was refused, we have continued to object at appeal.

April 2014

Selly Oak Institute, 648 Bristol Road, Birmingham

Grade II, of 1894 erected for George Cadbury. We objected to plans to convert this fine Arts and Crafts building to student accommodation, as many of the interior features would have been altered, concealed or potentially damaged with the introduction of partitions and false ceilings. Permission has been refused and we await more sympathetic proposals.

The Clock Tower and 106 Harborne High Street, Birmingham

Grade II, of 1885 by Martin and Chamberlain. Whilst we have not objected to previous plans to adapt these fine former board school buildings for restaurant and residential use, we consider current proposals to install catering facilities on the ground floor of the former headmaster’s house to be unacceptable with the loss of several original features.

Former Methodist Central Hall, Corporation Street, Birmingham

Grade II*, of 1900-3 by Ewen and J. Alfred Harper. We remain concerned at the poor condition of this imposing, but largely vacant terracotta landmark, with consent for residential conversion unimplemented. We are pleased that permission was refused for the retention of large banners on the scaffolding and urge that much needed repair is soon undertaken.

46 Gas Street, Birmingham

Grade II, of 1864 by James Lea. We have objected to proposals for extension of this former main office building of the Worcester and Birmingham Canal Company, now a restaurant, and an important feature of Gas Street Canal Basin. As the plain exterior remains largely unaltered, the proposed glass box would be an inappropriate addition.

March 2013

The Chapel, Great Park, Rubery, Birmingham

Grade II, of 1882 by Martin and Chamberlain. We have objected to the design for an extension and internal alterations for the conversion of this derelict chapel, built for the Birmingham Lunatic Asylum’s Committee of Visitors, to six apartments as part of a housing development on this hospital site. We hope that a more sensitive scheme will be drawn up.

Astle House, High Street, West Bromwich, Sandwell

Grade II, of 1883. We objected to some aspects of the conversion of the fine former Kenrick and Jefferson office building to shops and restaurants with fourteen apartments. We requested the retention of as many original features as possible, particularly panelling in the first floor board room.

King Edward VII Public House, Lichfeld Road, Aston, Birmingham

Unlisted, of 1902 by C.H.Collett. We objected to the demolition of this much loved, locally listed landmark for road widening. Despite wide public and media interest, proposals were approved. However, surviving interior features are to be incorporated in the restoration of another derelict Victorian pub in Aston.

Red Lion, Soho Road, Handsworth, Birmingham

Grade II*, of 1901 by James and Lister Lea. We have commented on proposals for the adaptation for restaurant use of this handsome building, which with its intact interior featured as a “Top Ten Threatened Building” in 2008. We objected to the initial design for building in the adjacent yard, but were content with revised plans.

The Wantage, Castle Hill, Kenilworth, Warwick District

Grade II, of 1901 by Buckland and Farmer. We objected to proposals to subdivide this fine Arts and Crafts house in a conservation area into flats and build a new house in the gardens. We await the outcome of an appeal against refusal of consent.

and a major case… featured before in 2011;

Holy Trinity Church, Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham

Grade I, medieval with work of 1873-9 by H.R.Yeoville Thomasson, of 1905 by W.H.Bidlake, and of 1914 and later by C. E. Bateman. The Chancellor has published a judgement on this long-standing case for a wide range of proposals for extension and reordering of this remarkable building. Our objections, including the design of the proposed glazed entrance, the replacement of the west doors and inner lobby, the removal of the pulpit and the removal of screens in the side chapels have resulted in several modifications to the original scheme. However, we are disappointed that the chancel is to be reordered. We shall lose the Victorian arrangement of Renaissance-style woodwork from significant 16th century choir fittings of Worcester Cathedral, as removed during restoration by G.G.Scott and then brought to Holy Trinity by the rector in 1874. However, all the woodwork is to be relocated elsewhere within the church.

August 2013

The Anchorage, 137 Handsworth Wood Road, Birmingham

Grade II*, of 1898 by Crouch and Butler. We have objected to the adaptation of the covered yard to a studio flat, as new windows and loss of the garden gateway will harm rear elevations of this fine Arts and Crafts house. We hope conversion of adjacent modern garages will be considered instead, allowing more sensitive treatment of the yard.

St Philip, Dorridge, Solihull

Locally listed, nave of 1878 by E.J.Payne and chancel of 1896-7 by J.A. Chatwin. We are being consulted on proposals to totally demolish this attractive church by Dorridge Station and replace it with a new church centre. We will object to the removal of the locally listed building, and seek its inclusion within the scheme.

8 St Agnes Road, Moseley, Birmingham

Unlisted house of 1897 by Owen and Ward. We have objected to demolition of this significant though much altered house in the St Agnes Conservation Area and its replacement with five new houses, which we consider to be erosion of the character of this mature suburb. Although permission has been refused by the local authority, the outcome of an appeal is awaited.

122-124 Colmore Row, Birmingham

Grade I, former Eagle Insurance building of 1900 by W.R.Lethaby and J.L.Ball. Whilst the concept of cafe and office use of this vacant building is to be welcomed, we have objected to proposals for damaging internal alterations, notably removal of a fireplace in the former manager’s office and demolition of internal walls on the upper storeys to provide open plan office space.

Handsworth Cemetery Chapel, Oxhill Road, Birmingham

Grade I, of 1908 by W.H. Bidlake. We have supported proposals for restoration of this extraordinary building, including reconstruction of one of the distinctive western turrets. After years of uncertainty, it looks as if the chapel will continue in use at the heart of this peaceful cemetery and important open space.

December 2013

Baptist Church, Yardley Road, Acock’s Green, Birmingham

Grade II, of 1913 by F.B.Andrews with Arthur Moor Hall, grade II, of 1903. Together with the Twentieth Century Society and the local Focus Group we objected to several proposed alterations to these listed buildings, including demolition of the attached locally listed Glynn Edwards Hall of 1924. Permission was refused and designs for a larger scale replacement rejected.

Oldknow Academy, Oldknow Road, Small Heath, Birmingham.

Grade II, of 1903 by Buckland and Farmer. We objected to several aspects of a proposed enlargement of the listed school buildings on this site, and the resulting plans were modified. We hope that the adjacent contemporary building with its domed Byzantine style porches will now also be included in the list description.

The Old Steam Mill, Corn Hill, Wolverhampton.

Grade II, of c1851 by William Fairbairn. We objected to the demolition of this fire damaged building, an important survival from the city’s flour mills, for the proposed extension of the City Centre Metro through the Union Mill Conservation Area. A revised route is now being considered retaining the mill, which we hope will be restored and converted to hotel use.

Wightwick Bank, Wolverhampton.

We objected to a proposed house in the grounds of nineteenth century Wightwick House, Grade II within the conservation area, overlooking National Trust property, Wightwick Manor, grade I, 1887 and 1893 by Edward Ould, the Tudor style home of the Mander family, and its gardens, Grade II, begun in 1887 by Alfred Parsons but mainly 1904 by Thomas Mawson. Permission has been refused.