Author: Nick Booth

Do you have photo’s of the development work on Stirchley Baths?

Kate Andrews is the new heritage officer for the project (we’ll introduce her a bit better very shortly) –  she’s looking for your pics and your thoughts on Stirchley Baths –  see below


Have you taken any photos of Stirchley Baths during it’s exciting redevelopment? Maybe at one of the community tours, or when walking past the baths? We would love to gather together all of the photographs taken over the last couple of years by the community. Some of the images will be selected to be exhibited on the hoardings around the front of the development over the next few months, or used on our website It doesn’t matter if they were taken on a mobile phone or professional camera, we would like to see all of them!

Please send your photographs via email to or by using a file sending service such as or To allow us to use the photographs publicly please email us with the following information:

What does the Stirchley Baths redevelopment mean to you? (We may use your quote with your photographs or online)
Do you have the right to share these photographs?
Do you give us permission to use the photographs publicly, including online?

Many thanks and we look forward to seeing your photographs.


Kate Andrews

Stirchley Baths – Community Heritage Development Officer

Stirchley Community Centre photography project – get involved

Many of the groups which will use the baths when the work is done have been using the nearby community centre for a many years.  Stirchley Happenings want to record the groups of Stirchley community centre in photography...  they tell us

In something of a mad dash before the centre is lost to the developers, the idea of a photography project has come to our minds. We’d like to open the opportunity up to photographers of all abilities to come and take photos of the centre and the groups that use it. There’s huge potential here for photographers to hone their skills documenting the activities of a really diverse range of groups, and to give those groups a reminder of the time they spent using the centre.

If you would like to get involved, but don’t have the equipment, the new Baths project has a load of kit that is available for documenting the redevelopment of the community centre. They’re running a Social Media Surgery on Tuesday 4th February where you can come and talk to them about the varied ways of getting involved in the Baths project, but also how to become more involved, digitally, in the community as a whole. Places must be booked in advance though.

Wonderful idea Stirchley.  Get stuck in!


Extended Saturday morning session on the details of the plan for Stirchley Baths

Stichley Baths Steering Group meet to go through detailed plans
Stichley Baths Steering Group meet to go through detailed plans

Key points on where the scheme is at:

  • Report has gone to Birmignham City Council cabinet – where it was approved.
  • Aiming for the first project – pre start meeting – before christmas and a start in January
  • If you saw floodlights by the baths on Friday night – the mains supply into the baths was still live and the supply was cut off in the Allley besides the baths.

Mark Sloane – the architect – talked through the planning drawings for planning permission: He said we know that the in and out access is narrow and their are talks going on to try and improve that.  There will also be some changes to Hazellwell Street pavement – to allow ofr a ramp into the building.

The Co-Op is also going through a process for the building next to the baths – the Friends Meeting House – which is locally listed.  Their plans may mean that access for Stirchley baths can be wider.  One member of the group acknowledged they they used to court in the alley between the two buildings!

Mark then started to outline the interior of the building, explaining the thinking behind the plan.

Click to download full ground floor plan
                                Click to download full floor plan

The room that started most detailed conversation was the projection room GF24 – with the roof lantern –  some conversation about furniture, storage and finishes.

GF19 is the main hall and a little bit bigger than a badminton hall  (a benchmark for community use) –  the plans also shows how the space could be used for judo mats and other activities (partly as a way of envisaging size).  This room isn’t for ball sports.

Q. Could there be a linking from from GF19 (main hall) to GF20.
A. It is possible but we’ve talked about this before – concerns about size. It can be accommodated?

GF03 is the smallest room and about 4m or 12 feet square – it can comfortable seat 6 people round a table in the room.

Q. Will there be storage for groups?
A. Yes.  Some audio visual technology will already be there –  but groups will still need places to be things like filing cabinets – where might the historical archives go?

Reception and GF07 are the dedicated offices space (but they’re not that big was an aside).    It will also be possible for people to come to the cafe and work.

Q Will the wi-fi be available throughout the building?
A That’s what we’ve asked for.

GF20 will only be half height walls – which means that the main hall will still have the same impact as currently – part of the conservation of the feel of the building.

Q: There are some original cubicles in the building with wood paneling – can these be used elsewhere in the building?
A The baths will be floored across – will there be access to that area under the floor?   No we wont be able to go into that space –  but there may be an access hatch with a glaze panel – so that people can see the old bath.

GF26 – existing access to the undercroft – the bore hole (which used to provide the water for the baths) will be capped off with a glass top.

GF18 leads to an outside play area for children.  It can also be an outside area for weddings or social events. The planning conditions includes hours of use.

GF11 is baby change

GF12 toilets

GF28 – public meeting room for ten people

GF20 – larger meeting room – which has a sink and also has storage to clear tables and chairs.There will be trolleys to move things from the kitchen. This room may need means for making drinks.

Key heritage features

  • The cubicle in reception will be reinstated.
  • All the roof light/lanterns  Notably in GF01 and GF27 – plus the two main rooms, GF24 and GF19
  • A capped/glazed well in the internet cafe
  • The balustrades in the main hall.
  • Exterior will be as it is – reinstating the missing cupola/dome over rooms GF08/06  and a clock is being re-instated.
  • Gable end wall pattern in the main hall – over the years they’ve added many elctrics – we will strip that off and re-introduce the patterns in the brick work. (Some people had thought this was a Star of David – it is though simply a pattern.?

Q Original mosaic flooring – A there is a floor plan with floor finishes and the green shows where the original is being kept.

                       Click through for detailed floor finishing plan.

Q is there a way of using some of the art budget for Mosaics for the flooring?
A At the moment the plan is to do that on the walls.

  • Dance may feature in the designs for the floors
  • The Chimney stays as it is and is re-pointed, repaired and lit as a local landmark.

Where IT will be

the plan shows

  • green line where there’s a pull down screen linked to a projector
  • Point – in GF24 – don’t put the screen off centre if possible. The screen might be better at the other end of the room  (where the curved wall is) because of where the doors are – its’ there because of the curve of the wall.

Roof plans

  • Just mentioned that the building is mostly top lit.
  • The area FF05 is essentially a mezzanine for plant. The machines that manage airflow are quite large and tricky to hide.  Some units will be on the mezzanine floor within the hall – trying to keep them as squat as possible so they can’t be seen from the floor hall. Some other ins the old plant room FF01.

Other questions

Q Could there be an exterior door into the cafe?
A The problem with that at the moment is that it steps out onto a roadway.

Q Will we be able to put a flag on the flagpole –  can we get to the foot of it? 
(not sure at the moment)

A conversation evolved about Stirchley park behind the building

Money for the park?  A  there is £48k  available for the park – but details of hwo to use that hasn’t been discussed yet because the budget has only just been approved. Improvements may be possible if the coop’s plans allow a better for for the building.  Q/Opinion The gate at the back to Stirchley Park – it should be inviting to encourage people to use the space.  Does Amey the highways contractor have access to money for work like steps/gradient into the park? A Karen Cheney will sort a meeting about the park.  Opinion – We need some sort of camera in the park A It would cost less to do this now and link it to the cameras in the centre.

All of the plans for the interior and exterior of the building can be downloaded below:

72920_03A_Proposed Site Plan
72920_10L_Proposed Ground Floor Plan
72920_11F_Proposed First Floor Plan
72920_21D_Proposed Section B
72920_22E_Proposed Section C
Proposed GF Plan_23.05.13_IT information points
72920_28D_Proposed Floor Finishes 
72920_27D_Proposed Ceiling Plan
72920_29C_Proposed Wall Finishes
72920_18F_Proposed Elevations


Notes from the stakeholder meeting on 12th November 2013

These are just rough notes taken at the stakeholder meeting held on 12th November 2013 at the Stirchley Community centre.

Karen Cheney (Head of Selly Oak District ) introduced some key people

  • John Lucas and James  Morris from Mansell Construction
  • Mohammed Irfan – District community and play manager.
  • Lesley Steele-  is the person who manages the programme on behalf of the council – she’s the client.
  • Mark Sloane – Acivico Architect who designed Hub  , Gio Picariello – Acivico Project Manager for this scheme

Karen  explained that the project still had to be finally approved   at the council cabinet – the cabinet meets on Monday 18th –  this will also approve the contract for the work.   that means that by Friday of following week we should be able to place orders with the contractors and we’re looking at starting on site in the New Year – starting before will mean paying for nothing to happen.

Someone asked – you do mean 2014!  Yes.

Acivico ( Gio and Mark) are a company wholly owned by Birmingham City Council and they deliver the capital works for the council – they deliver schemes and return profit back to the council.

James  Morris from Mansell (part of Balfour Beatty) explained they have done a number of conservation projects before and work in partnership with the council.  He;’s currently working on Chamberlain House in Moseley – another listed building.  They have been involved with the project for almost 2 years – which means they can plan thoroughly before it starts.  We used experienced people for conservation from wherever they find them.

John Lucas  says he used to work with Sapcotes and was the site Manager for the Back to Backs in Birmingham and has done the Bournville Lane Baths for Cadbury – including work on Black Countyr Museum and the Bethesda Chappel in Stoke.

Mark is the architect (plans available here) – the plans have been shown a number of times and have planning approval.  There have been negotiations with the Coop around a plan to provide better access around the Friends Meeting house – if that happens another planning application will go in but will run in conjunction with the build.

qWhat is the cost going to be and could it go up.

A – the target cost is fixed and will be fully public from Monday.

q How much has the plan shifted from the first scheme

A The one that got approved had a shift to flexible/multi- functional  community spaces.  Following talking to people in Stirchley – the message was more space for groups to use the building and that the building is flexible.  there will be a telephone kiosk connecting to council advice services.

Q  Will it be used for council offices in the future?

A There may be flexible services there on some days – but not envisaged that  permanent council offices.

Q  Any plans to connect ot to the library so it becomes a larger site.

A there was an early plan to do that but cost meant not.  There will work together – and this building can also provide space for larger exhibitions – there could be self service book return etc in the hub.

Q  Will it be possible for the CAB to have an office –
A We are actively pursuing all voluntary organisations who may wish to provide services from within the hub. The building is there for what the local community would like to be there.

Q Re accesibility and ease of access –

A – If we are able to work things through with the coop it will help to separate cars and pedestrians a little more. Tesco has planning approval so some road improvements will happen and a pavement widening will helps with pedestrian safety.

Heritage officer

Once all is approved a commission will go out for a part time heritage officer for 3 years – including the first year of building work. There are also heritage activity and interpretation plan. The commission will probably appear on Find it in Birmingham – hoping to get someone ready to get started in the new year.

Social reporting –

Offer made to learn to use the kit and add stories to Stirchley baths site.

Q asked that if equipment ends up being damaged can it be replaced through free cycle.

Steering group

Do you want to be a part – not exclusive.  What would be expected… Not everyone goes to every meeting but it has had consistency and input in terms of improving and developing  ideas for usage etc.  We don’t pretend to be representative – but we are from several areas and interests.  Another said – it has been interesting – especially given the connection with the current Community centre.

From the council’s perspective this is your building.  There will be more opportunities/ space than the current community centre may offer.  For example the  theatre/cinema potential.  The council is also keen in being challenged to get it right.  J

Point from the floor Stirchley Urban Resource Network – appeared at first like a virtual community centre. This is an example of how the “spirit of Stirchley” should be captured – heritage can remind us that we have a vibrant community here and have had it for a century.

Many people from outside Stirchley are still interested in what happens at the Bath’s.

The switch over from existing community centre to the new one.

Tesco  have vacant possession of the current community centre from March 2014.

You can find the plan for the Tesco development on the planning portal.   Cllr Rob Seeley explained that  Tesco still have to submit a detailed plan –  but have outline planning approval.  An update about business response can be found on the Lifford Lane Business Associaiton site.

Mohammed explains what is likely to happen to community groups

There are currently approx. 20000 users come through the doors for sessions at the community centre.

We have 20 loyal good groups here ranging  from parent and toddlers to senior citizens. They are all volunteer led and they have many skills within the groups.
Alternative venues being explored include:

Stirchley Church
St Andrews Church

Christchurch, Selly park
Birmingham city council facilities – Masefield community centre (currently closed on Saturday and Sunday)

The Library
We might also approach the Police Tally Ho centreWill arrange open days for these venues and there will still be staff to support their use by groups.

Q How will the hub be staffed

A  Current staff at the community centre will be transferred – but the longer aim is that building will be a community asset transfer –  leased to a community group.

A question was raised – had a local cllr bought the building at sometime – A was the baths have always been in council hands

Q Once it is community asset transferred the site will have to sustain itself – pay for staff that are needed.

A  There wont be an asset transfer unless the community group can sustain this.  In terms of  external funding there are also many more funds that can be applied for from a community group rather than BCC

Q Would the asset transfer go to an outside group or a larger group from elsewhere or could it be a newly formed group.

A – It could be either – a new group could be an umbrella for many active organisations. They will have to maintain the Spirit of Stirchley.  At this stage the asset transfer is an idea – a proposal.

Q How long are the leases

A Because of EU constraints the lease can be 25 years at most.

Q How many CAT’s are prowling ( no idea what this word is !!):

A  It has developed consistency in the last 5 years – open, fair and transparent.  The aim it to transfer to a viable community based  organisation that has a local community focus.  There are about a dozen current  active CATs  in Birmingham varying from organisations with one building to neighbourhood assets.  The organisation has to demonstrate and programme  inclusive use.  They also have to be a not for profit organisation. There will also be conditions from Heritage Lottery Fund for their grant.

Q Has there been any more information as regard the Jewish bath that was there.A It could be an area that needs more exploration.

The walkthrough on the 30th.  – The steering group have a development half day on the 30th November and will going into more depth on Community Asset Transfer, the building plans and social media.