Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Feedback from Peter Smallbone re: Martineau Centre

On Behalf Of Peter Smallbone
October 2012
Subject: Re: Martineau Centre

Mr Millington

I thought you would be interested in my feedback to Persimmon Homes' Martineau Centre Consulation, currently running at

Dear Sir or Madam

Thank you for giving local people the opportunity to comment on your proposals. I would like to respond as follows.

Reason for Consultation

The reason for this consultation is far from clear. There must be a tangible commercial reason why Persimmon Homes is prepared to commit its own resources to a consultation about property that it does not own. It would be helpful if Persimmon Homes stated on the website whether or not they have already come to any commercial arrangement, formal or otherwise, with Birmingham City Council about the future of the Martineau Centre.

Scope and Necessity

The feedback on a consultation is shaped by what is being consulted about. In this case, you are simply consulting on two slightly different options to develop almost the entire Centre into housing, implicitly rejecting all other options from the outset. Therefore the consultation lacks sufficient scope.

I recently performed my own local consultation, which elicited 241 individual responses. 78% of respondents expressed a clear desire that the Martineau Centre, in its entirety, should be retained by the Council or transferred to a non-profit-making organisation and used as a public facility. Therefore, local people have already flatly rejected both of the options you are presenting within the narrow scope of your consultation.

Playing Fields

The Martineau Centre includes perfectly serviceable and badly-needed playing fields in a suburban area of relatively high population and housing density.

These playing fields are currently public property. The fact that the Council has allowed the facilities supporting the fields to deteriorate, and has largely prevented individuals and sporting groups from using the fields for some considerable time, must not be allowed to detract from their utility.

The suggestion that the sacrifice of the Centre’s natural turf playing fields could be mitigated by building plastic pitches at Lordswood School is risible. Lordswood School is a mile away in a different electoral ward. Local people would not have any real control over the use of these pitches, partly for this reason, and partly because the school would be the ultimate authority on when they could or could not be used.

However, the main objection to this idea is that plastic pitches simply do not allow the same range of sports to be played on them. This can be illustrated by the recent example of nearby Queen Alexandra College. The college has been given permission to build a sports hall on its own plastic pitches because they are considered by Sport England, the statutory authority, to be of insufficient value.

Retained Public Facilities

There is insufficient information concerning the buildings and land that would be retained for public use for any respondent to be able to provide a considered opinion. The buildings and land to be retained have not been fully specified, it is unclear how they would be renovated and who would pay for this, there is no detail on what public facilities they would provide and when they would be open, and no clear information on who would actually own and manage them.

In Summary

The opinions of local people are already abundantly clear and yet another consultation will not change people’s minds. It is time to put a stop to this and give the Martineau Centre back to the people who own it.

Peter Smallbone

Resident of South-West Birmingham and Former Councillor for Quinton Ward

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