Would Cotteridge Park be a more welcoming place if it had a small building for the community? Would more people be able to benefit from the opportunities offered in the park if there were toilets and somewhere to sit down and have a coffee?
A Building for the Community in Cotteridge Park
In 2017 funding was granted by Sport England to undertake a feasibility study to enable plans to be drawn up and surveys and consultation to be undertaken.
Designs and Plans
Working with architects, Axis Design, volunteers and park users have produced a design and plans for the building. The designs have now been submitted to Birmingham City Council’s Planning Committee for review.
Click on these links to see the information submitted as part of the planning application.
It’s never easy to make a change to a space that is so important to so many people. The aim of the project is to replace a lost resource with something new that meets the needs of the current park users.
The Sons of Rest provided club facilities for Industrial Veterans and was built in the 1930s. The old toilet block would not now meet the requirements of a modern community.
To ensure that any new building meets the needs of as many people in the community as possible an online survey was launched in Autumn of 2017. The survery received 534 responses with 80% of those responding giving a B30 postcode. 85% of those surveyed thought that the community building was a good idea.
Click here to read the: proposed building in Cotteridge Park – final report from the online questionnaire
Not everyone likes to comment online so in addition to the survey a public meeting was held on 25 October 2017.
Click here to read the Cotteridge Park building consultation workshop report v2 31.10.17
What happens next?
In March 2018 the plans for the building were submitted to the Planning Committee at Birmingham City Council and Planning permission was granted.
Now the search for funding starts in earnest. The budget for the current plans means we need to raise about £120k.
If you are interested in finding out more about the plans or want to get involved in the planning and fundraising process please send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Questions and Answers about the Community Building in Cotteridge Park
Why are there plans for a community building in Cotteridge Park?
There have buildings in Cotteridge Park since it was laid out in the early 1900s. Over time they have been demolished and removed and it is only the last 20 years that there have been no publicly accessible buildings in the park. All that is left now is the Park Keeper’s staff room and tool storage.
Friends of Cotteridge Park (FoCP) volunteers are frequently asked if there are toilets in the park and regrettably we have to say that there are no public toilets.
Anecdotal evidence gathered over the last 20 years indicated that some people are unable to come to the park or join in the free activities without access to toilets or somewhere to sit down – particularly families with young children and older people.
A “needs analysis” conducted in 2017 provided empirical evidence to back up this anecdotal evidence.
FoCP believes that the park will be a more welcoming place if we bring back a small building. More people will be able to benefit from the opportunities offered in the park if there were toilets and somewhere to sit down and have a coffee?
What will it be used for?
It’s a community building designed for use by the community. It’s entirely up to you how to use it. FoCP is providing toilets and drink making facilities because that’s what park users say they want.
“This area doesn’t need another café”
The building will be a community building with drink making facilities and toilets – not a commercial cafe. Park users have told FoCP that the lack of these facilities stopped them using the park more regularly.
Why do we need it?
Cotteridge Park used to have a ‘Sons of Rest’ building, which provided a place for people to meet. Sadly, it was demolished 20 years ago. FoCP is recreating a modern and more inclusive version of that space.
Wasn’t the ‘Son of Rest’ building vandalised?
The vandalism that happened in the 1990s was when the building was no longer in use by the members of the Sons of Rest and before FoCP was fully active. Since then the levels of vandalism in the park have been minimal.
It will mean more traffic in the area and there isn’t enough parking.
The proposed building is designed to serve those living within walking distance of the park and as such neither FoCP nor Birmingham City Council expect any increase in traffic or parking.
Some people have said there’s been a lack of consultation about the proposal
A consultation questionnaire was advertised through letter boxes, park meetings, online networks and on noticeboards. 534 people replied to the survey 85% per cent thought it was a good idea.
Have there been any consultation meetings?
There are regular park planning meetings at which the subject of the building was discussed over the last few years. There was also a widely publicised, independently facilitated public consultation meeting in October 2017.
Are toilets really needed?
Respondents cited the lack of toilets and places to rest as the reasons for not using the park. This was particularly the case for older people and for parents of young children
I’ve heard that the majority of people objected to this proposal
85% of the people who responded to the survey were in favour.
At the Planning Permission stage there were more objection letters than letters of support. It is not unusual for there to be more objections because people who are happy with planning applications don’t feel the need to write a letter.
Planning permission is granted on the merits of the project and not on the number of letters in favour or against. The Planning committee reviewed all the materials submitted and approved the plans.
The building will mean more anti-social behaviour
Anti-Social behaviour is an issue in many parks across the country. Cotteridge Park is very lucky because levels are low, partly because of our relationship with our neighbourhood police team. They are looking forward to using the building as place to hold surgeries and to meet local residents.
There’ll be more litter in the park as a result of the building
Volunteers have been keeping Cotteridge Park litter free for 20 years – even though it’s actually the responsibility of Birmingham City Council. We have an enthusiastic band of volunteers and, if needed, we will increase the frequency of our litter picks.
It’s not a sustainable business.
It’s not meant to be a business. It’s a community building staffed by volunteers. A forecast on the running costs has been drawn up and submitted to funders. They will only offer money to build the building if they believe that the project is sustainable.
Why isn’t the money being spent on repairing the paths or bringing back the Park Keeper?
Local residents have campaigned to save the park keeper several times but in December 2017, as a result of austerity driven budget cuts, Cotteridge Park finally lost its last Park Keeper.
The expected cost of the building is around a £120k and this is being raised through a mixture of grants and donations.
The funding organisations that are interested in supporting the project do not make money available to do the work that should be done by the Council (ie repairing paths).
To employ a Park Keeper costs about £30k a year. Even if the money was available, from grants, for staff it would only mean we get our park keeper back for 4 years.
Where is the money coming from?
Funding bids are being submitted to a mix of large national donors and local trusts. There will also need to be donations and fundraising from the local community. Keep your eye out for bake sales and quiz nights! Get in touch if you can help with the fundraising.
We don’t need another community centre in the area
This is going to be a place to enable more people to enjoy both the park and the activities organised by the Friends group and other organisations. It will provide access to toilets, hot drinks and somewhere to sit when the weather is bad.
If it’s staffed by volunteers won’t opening hours be patchy?
The Friends of Cotteridge Park has always benefited from a loyal membership and dedicated volunteer team. We have spent the last 20 years helping with the upkeep of the park as well as staging CoCoMAD in July.
There is already a rota of people willing to ensure that the building is open as often as the community wants it to open. But more volunteers are always needed – so get in touch if you want to help.
What are the proposed opening times?
In addition to times when FoCP activities are running the group hopes to also open at other busy times such as before and after school and at weekends.
It’s going to be noisier in the area when the building is open
The building will open when organised sessions and activities are running. So we are not expecting footfall or noise to be any different from current levels.
The park isn’t big enough for a building of this kind
The proposed community building will be no bigger than the old Sons of Rest building. Its location, between the railway embankment and the skate park will mean it will have a minimal visual impact.
The building will swallow up valuable space in the park
The building will sit on a small and relatively underused part of the park. It’s also worth noting that the Friends of Cotteridge Park have previously helped to increase the total area of the park. Several years ago the group raised funds to purchase a strip of land called the ‘Orchard’. This was then gifted to the council – so that it would belong to the people of Birmingham in perpetuity.