Should We Be Living in Shoeboxes?
Barrett Homes have been scolded by both the council and the public for their building plans for over 700 new homes and apartments. The plans show the 772 homes make up 11 storeys and not everyone is pleased with what was intended. What’s more, the 21.5-acre application carried the hope of high-quality open space for the residents and a series of connections with the local area, but it still doesn’t meet Birmingham City Council’s standards. A few more problems have arisen preventing the going-ahead of these plans, regarding the flat designs and the site itself where historical buildings are under threat.
Prison Cell Apartments.
The new flats have been described by members of the council as “shoeboxes” with a “prison cell block” feel to them. Upon hearing these descriptions, it is inevitable that we are now all picturing square rooms stacked together like hollow Lego blocks, furniture squashed around the sides of the room just to give us an inch more floor space. The small homes are also said to be uniform and plain…not every first-time buyer’s dream start, is it?
Birmingham City Council have given feedback to the architects and have made a few suggestions to improve the new space.
- They have suggested building the 11 storeys even higher if it means making the flats bigger and more suitable for day-to-day life.
- The idea of building community shops has also been put forward as in improvement, such as a Tesco Express which will increase interest in the area and convenience for the residents.
- In the hope of building community spirit, the council has also suggested a community building – which we assume will be a social hub – for the estate.
Historic Landmarks or a Waste of Space?
The 21.5-acre application includes the land lying beneath St Luke’s Church on Bristol Street and the Highgate Centre which is an old orphanage nearby. The Church was completed in 1903, and even though it is now disused, it has becoming an integral part of the local area and nearby residents have grown fond of its familiar, albeit rugged, sight. The Highgate Centre is even older, dating back to 1877. This too is a fond sight. It is believed by some that both buildings have history and integrity, and as Mansell and Mansell buildings they deserve respect.
The council have had communication not just from members of the public but also from ‘Save Britain’s Heritage’ and ‘The Victorian Society’, both declaring their displeasure and objecting the idea of demolishing these precious buildings. It has been argued that if their disuse is projecting them as a waste of space, then instead of being knocked down, they should simply be brought to life with a new purpose. For example, one suggestion for one of the buildings was to have it opened as a community hall. Another, was that they could be the frame work for luxury apartments. They could even be the new location for the social hub recommended by the council.
So, it’s back to the drawing boards for the architects. Hopefully what they come up with will be worth the wait for all those in need of a one-bedroomed #home.
If you are not looking for something as small as a one-bedroomed apartment, check out our blog to see what other building projects are going on in your area; www.enlightenea.co.uk/blog
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