Beacon Action Group gives an initial response to Lapworth Architects recently published Community Benefit Statement for Great Barr Hall
English Heritage have set out a number of ground rules that make provision in exceptional circumstances for any development within a green belt, when a historic asset needs to be restored and when no other funding source is available. To enable this to happen, minimal development can be allowed, the profit from which funds the restoration. However, this profit is considered to be public money due to the dis-benefit to residents that arises from the development.
In the case of Great Barr Hall the owners want to turn what little ruinous remains are left into a new and extremely large building that will have very little historic connection to its original design and use.
The price residents will have to pay for this £15-20 million business enterprise is enormous and will bring considerable dis-benefit to the community, for many reasons, not least the construction of a new 59 dwelling estate and 500 seated banqueting/conference centre.
English Heritage rules for allowing enabling development are clear – all new development must be kept to an absolute minimum and the benefit to the public must be greater than sustaining the loss of green belt and open spaces forever.
Residents need to consider therefore, whether the benefits outlined will really exist and whether they are being exaggerated. This rosy picture for the future of the hall and estate will mainly benefit the new owners but the neighbours in both Sandwell and Walsall will share the burden of this enterprise forever.
Beacon Action Group urges all interested residents to read this document carefully, the benefits outlined are those put forward by the developers as a convincing argument for their business enterprise. The community at large must be the judge.
To take a look at Lapworth Architects Community Benefits Statement visit our important links page.