Statement from the Owners of Gt Barr Hall

The owners have obviously been following the debate around the Hall very closely.This has been from reading this blog, the Beacon Action Group site and other comments.

Last night I received a lengthy and detailed statement that addresses the debate and I have been given the permission to post these extracts. I will post these without comment from myself and then you can debate it in the comments and they will read them.

This is detailed and I would advise you to read the comments in detail before replying.

LOCAL PEOPLE

 Firstly I along with my colleagues are all local and have family members who live in the direct vicinity of the Hall

COSTS OF THE HALL AND ANY PROFITS

There is much speculation in regards to the “profits” which will be made from the development.  I can assure you it is a far different story, we are in fact going to be out of pocket by a large number! You may find this hard to believe, so I will share some high level figures with you.

To redevelop/restore the Hall-land-lakes, the value agreed with English Heritage, their quantitative surveyors, our quantitative surveyors (and also Walsall Council’s quantitative surveyors), is an eye watering £16,200,000!!! This is not just me plucking a figure out of the air but has been confirmed independently by all three of the above QS’s.

The sales from the development/houses after build costs (again done by 3 quantitative surveyors), is £13,200,000.  You may now question that you will be getting 10 high level “swanky pads” out of this. But the £13.2M figure includes us buying our own properties at FULL market value to help with the restoration.

So, once we have developed/restored the Hall-land-lakes we will need to put in another £3,000,000 from our pocket to complete the restoration.  This figure does not include the security cost of £5,000 per month being paid for the last 18 months, professional fees and surveys fees of £250,000 to date (I expect that to increase yet), and the purchase price of £1,100,000 + stamp duty and legal fees!! Once done we will have put in around £5,000,000 to cover the deficit.

As you may be aware enabling development, under English Heritage rules, allows us to make a legitimate profit of 20% above the gross value of the restoration (£16.2M). It doesn’t take a genius to work out that we have fore gone the 20% profit as well as covering the deficit from our own pocket

ON THE LARGE CONFERENCE CENTRE

Now lets talk about the business itself, the banqueting/conference centre is a business proposal that we have come to after 18 months of deliberation, and consulting the wider public. As I am sure you are aware, the estate will incur considerable on going running costs, it was always a prerequisite of ours that any venture we start up at Great Barr Hall, had not only have to fund itself, but also the considerable ongoing costs of the estate.  The reason for this was over the years, we have seen many good intention ventures fall by the wayside as these people have never considered how their good intentions will be funded on an ongoing basis.  So putting that all into the equation, any profits that the Hall makes, and the revenue raised on a yearly basis from the 57 houses, would pay for the upkeep of the estate, because I am sure nobody wants the Hall to fall back into ruin in 5-10 years down the line.

ON BUILDING THE HOMES BUT NOT THE HALL

On most of the blogs out there, some people are saying that once we build the houses we will bankrupt the and run off with the money.  Let me clarify two misconceptions, firstly any enabling development that takes place, English Heritage will be binding us to a legal agreement.  Secondly, this whole development will have to be phased in line with the development of the Hall. So as you can see we cannot possibly run off with any money, if anything we will be putting money in from our own pocket throughout this whole venture.

If this was all about us making money, I am sure you would agree we could make quite a lot of money with our £5,000,000 without the aggravation.  Likewise, if this was just about us getting a beautiful home, I could walk into Four Oaks and choose a beautiful house in a beautiful neighbourhood, with neighbours who would probably appreciate me a bit more as well.

MOTIVATION

You may ask what our motives behind this are, well the truth is we thought we were doing something worthwhile, for the benefit of the community, and be proud of our achievements for generations to come.  If I am being honest with you, it seems we were naive and at times we do question why we are doing this.  Especially as all the figures indicated, we should be building between 80 and 100 houses to cover the costs, but we were keen not to create another Bovis development.

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54 thoughts on “Statement from the Owners of Gt Barr Hall

  1. Hi

    As a member of a bird ringing group with many contacts for other wildlife, why not give us access to your sight for the next 12 months to study the wildlife across the site ? We would be happy to do this for the benefit of yourselves and the local community who would like some positive and encouraging news about the site. This would be a positive step forward to show you care about the wildlife and habitat your land provides.
    Thank you
    Ben

  2. The comment on they could buy a property at Four Oaks with better neighbours is rude they would not get much for their money their and would have had a bigger fight. Also the people that live on the Bovis site paid a premium to live here and will be paying to maintain the site, also some of the properties have been near the half a million pound mark I still have doubts as no one spends not to profit somewhere along the line.

    A Bovis Resident

    • So if you paid a premium and these owners walked away, what do you think would happen then without the security present ?

      Your premium would not be worth anything at all then when people hear of the sex, drug taking and joy riding that goes on and I have heard there is worse than that unreported.

      At the moment the people on Netherhall are living next to unkept open derelict land and only the security provided by the owners is keeping things from getting far worse.

      What is better, the proposal or the situation previously ?

  3. This is a great statement from the owners and actually shows they are more than willing to engage with residents unlike many others before them who would not. The other difference with these owners and this proposal they are the people who want to live here and eventually end up as residents themselves.

    It will be an interesting few months of debate.

  4. I am minded to fully back these proposals. The alternative is that the Hall and grounds will become so derelict that eventually it will be razed to the ground and the grounds left to go to rack and ruin. It was a great gesture the owners have made to explain the situation to us all. I am sure that somewhere down the line , possibly from the conference centre / wedding venue, they will make some kind of profits. One would hope so anyway after all this effort !
    I too have had initial doubts, but looking at the map of the proposed housing build, it is not like the Bovis massacre but much more thoughtfully arranged.

    I wish the owners of the land well, and hope that common sense prevails and lets the restoration go ahead closely monitored by English heritage of course !

    • Your last point is vital Marie,

      You may see some comments from Tom Watson online today or in the Gt Barr Observer when they deliver it to you. I believe that Tom has got some of his facts wrong.

      However he is worried by the prospect of the owners walking away. Well if the planning rules are correct by the council and IF English Heritage do their job right then actually it is a win win.

      This is the best, last and only chance for the area. If these owners walk away the security goes, the trouble resumes, Netherhall and Park Farm residents get all the hassle.

      If they listen to voices saying no development at all then I am afraid you are asking literally for trouble again.

  5. Noticed on the twitter feed for this site that when the notification of Chapel Lane being closed was made, that a resident of chapel lane said something along the lines of “I wish it was closed during rush hour as it takes me 15 minute to get off my drive”, well, how long will it take to get off her drive with 50+ houses and a hotel in Great Barr Park? But of course, this development will have no disadvantage to local residents apparently … Have to say, i weirdly find myself singing from a very similar hymn sheet to Tom Watson … Now there is an unusual thing.

    Hopefully this sort of issue will be taken in to account by Messrs Andrew and his colleagues at Walsall MBC even though these particular affected residents cannot vote for the very people that will ultimately be making the decisions as they are over the border in Sandwell

  6. why are all the figures rounded to nearest 0 seems strange?

    clearly 50+ houses will add to pressure maybe an extra say 30/40 vehicles during peak time?

    has anyone noticed that conference will be closed during peak hours 7-9 5-6? otherwise that has potential to add lot more. that is a good move.

    gents has a meeting been arranged we don’t want to as usual debate here post meeting….

    • Now PK on the last point I have no idea. BAG announced two weeks ago they would announce a date and still nothing despite promising something today.

      they told everyone to hold back on replies to the planning but they need to give decent notice for people to be able to plan to turn up.

      Esp the MP’s as it will likely have to be a Thursday Evening.

      • thanks for this please keep us posted. nothing is planned at netherhall I think most will attend this event.

        I’m not big fan of develoment because once u loose land its gone forever but I am also open minded for clarity there will be no access via netherhall is this correct?

    • Hello PK and a happy new year to you.

      The traffic generated sadly, will be far more than you mention i think.

      Utter chaos on Chapel Lane will ensue i fear.

      There is no possible way a conference centre/hotel could close to traffic in a rush hour, i mean rooms not ready until 15.00 is one thing, however access denied in the rush hour is another.

      Anyone telling you that there will be no traffic issues is trying to “pull the wool” i am afraid.

  7. Just actually read the statement again and put a business brain on it

    What about using the £3 million that you must have already (otherwise the development is doomed to collapse halfway through) as a deposit towards a mortgage of some £10 million for the renovation work? Add to your £3 million the money you intend to spend on your houses, the value in the property that you already own and hey presto you have the funds to refurbish the hall without building.

    That in my elementary maths brain amounts to a deposit of more than 30% towards a £16 million project.

    You would have a very strong case with the banks, especially on the basis that you would have a profitable hotel, conference and visitor centre, there would be profit from the lakes even, maybe?

    Not sure what you business plan shows obviously, but what your projections are going forward would interest me.

    Oh, there you go Ian, think i finally thought up an alternative with a little help from the owners.

    Finally, the point you made about Four Oaks is a little offensive, it is certainly not the best way to gain support from your possible new neighbours and one could easily be led to think that the people in the “big house” look down on the minions in the little houses and that there views are not of interest and can easily be suppressed.

    Please do not be offended by what i say, do not take them as a personal insult as they are just thoughts, hopefully finding an option that is better, simply what i think whilst i am mulling over how i feel about the whole issue and your statement.

  8. PK, i was not saying you were wrong, i was merely supporting your worries and adding that i think that there will be far more congestion caused by this development than you were worried about.

    • thanks Paul….

      I have a community benefit idea why don’t owners agree that conferences won’t start or finish during the peakbhours?

      surely this is the best solution for local residents?

      what do u both think? how could this be done..

  9. forgot to add if this can be done then surely 40/50 cars leaving both direction would bemaximum during peak times from the houses?

  10. This could be done, i suppose as part of the conditions of the planning application it would be easy to police but not if it was just a promise from the developers, as any future owners or even the current developers for that matter could renege on it at a later date. You would need to add to this rule though, for instance make the shift patterns of the staff out of the peak, ban service vehicles etc.

    Then let us say that these households have a car per adult and here is over 100 cars coming in and out more than once if one of the adults has to do the school run, let alone if they have children of adult age who would also most likely have cars too. Thus meaning more trips than just a trip in and out to work. Take a few from this number as some may work different shift patterns and some may not have cars, although in this caliber of property i doubt that.

    Then there are the hotel guests, they can hardly dictate the hours they leave or arrive.

    Also, let us say they have a conference Monday, they ban them starting until 10 AM let us say, the peak time then just simply gets extended an hour to include however many people are attending. Unless of course the conference is only a dozen people.

  11. I would say if a rraffic condition was imposed resteicting congeeence centre hours then at least 70% of potential traffic issue could be reduced?

    I don’t think the restriction could include staff etc as otherwise the conference could never start until say12. this would surely risk the viability of the hall?

    the hotel is for 10 guests you can’t assume all 10 will leave and next 10 arrive during peak hours?

    I don’t think 100 cars leave netherhAll at 7-9. I genuinely think at max 50. however out of this perhaps 10 turn right and 40 over 20 hours turn left?

    on top of this u could add say 7 cars for staff and assume ALL hotel visitors leave so another 10. that means another 17 cars between 7-9 with say 4 turning right and 13 turning left over 2 hours?

    • indeed and how many people check in/out of an hotel at 7-9 ? not a lot in my experience even workers staying over. The hotel traffic is minimal when compared to the Premier Inn.

      The conference is an issue but frankly you are not going to get 500 conferences every day and I suspect most of the time this will be weddings mainly on the weekends, thus no real impact then.

      As for the homes as you say in reality how many cars will leave at 7-9. Maybe some for the school run but go in the other direction. However my guess is between 7-9 you maybe only looking at 30-60 cars and this is nothing % terms compared to the traffic now.

      I do believe the traffic is a red herring. However I also believe that there should be a campaign to look at the general traffic issue there. Maybe even thoughts about redesigning the M6 island or even blocking access from most of Chapel lane to the M6. However what stress that would put on Beacon and Queslett road can only be imagined.

      As to the ‘disbenefit’ wished you would stop using that, it is a political term only. Building construction is inevitable in any development whether 20 or 57 homes but again I wished people would stop comparing to Bovis, this is nothing like the same. (of course it is only temp).

      I did say I would not comment but there you are !!

      • Disbenefit:

        “a disadvantage or loss resulting from something”

        Not yet found a dictionary that says it is a political only word Ian.

        Ian,

        Why not answer some of my valid points?

        Why ignore a lot of what i say in any of the posts? Even the ones offering an olive branch?

        Why are you supporting this when the BAG seem not to be? After all they are the experts on this situation.

        Why are you ignoring the worries of the residents whose door step this will land and just trying to reassure them?

        I put it to you that you have made your mind up and damn the consequence even if you hear of any.

  12. what really annoys me and used to be a lot worse is fumes dust noise etc from constriction work.

    this I think will be more Annoying and should be taken into account as a disbenefit to community

    • Paul good questions.

      however a neighbour once pointed out beacon action have not supported any applications in area since the 80s

      so I think they are against all development. I am not sure how true this is but sure someone with local knowledge could answer?

      I also left amessage on their site asking them and askin what version of the hall they and architectural style they want to return to. comments were not published

      • And PK I have asked the same in other ways and can not get an answer from that. They seem to be saying a smaller hall development and less homes. Well I put up the figures the owners gave me it shows clearly that this is not financially possible unless they have a generous benefactor lined up.

        Paul, in other ways I have answered that and said on balance I support this. Yes some residents will get affected but I believe that the impact is being overplayed by BAG.

        for example the Wall issue, the residents should be aware that originally a 6 ft wall was there. I believe the traffic will not be the problem that people say. Someone commented on the noise and that can be controlled by the sound proofing of the centre and enforced by the council.

        I have seen BAG with a very good PR job, spreading out the same message through a number of posts but they have yet to announce the public meeting they promised two weeks ago.So given they have to give some good notice so not likely for another 10 days even if they announced it now.

        And more importantly if they reject this and persuade the planning committee this will be no Bovis, the owners will simply walk away and withdraw the security, what impact do you think that will have ?

      • Perhaps PK there has not been an appropriate plan to date. Just because they say no, no and no does not mean they are unrealistic or unfair, now does it.

        I am pretty sure if you look over their site and links from within it you will see what they want done with the hall, in fact there is a good letter from their man in the observer this week.

        I think they want the hall to be refurbished to how it used to be and not embellished past all recognition. A fair request if you ask me.

  13. Ian, I do not think they will walk away, why would anyone walk away from a million pound investment. They may come up with a plan B which offers them less profit who knows. I personally think that the impact is being under played by you rather than over played by BAG. BAG know their facts and i would think they have a more likely reason to want this application if it was reasonable than you do to be honest.

    I will take notice of them before i do of you, Lapworth or the owners and i would think that is the sensible thing to do.

    Personally i think your motive to support is that you hope it will alleviate the issues you suffer personally more than anything else and that you are not concerned how it will affect anyone else.

    That is human nature i suppose and i do not blame you in some ways.

    The way i see it is this, firstly if the people of Chapel Lane and vicinty are opposed it is a non starter as they will be most affected, but if they are pro the plan then it moves on to the people of Nether Hall and then Park Farm, followed by the whole of Great Barr if all the others are happy. It has to take account of views in that order, that all being said of course this would only be on the provision that English Heritage give the OK in the first place and i do not think that they will.

  14. I’d be surprised if there wasn’t a public meeting in the near future to debate the application. A concern expressed by a number of my friends and neighbours, is that when a meeting is held, it is not open to all local residents.
    Everyone should be free to attend any meeting and express their views on the proposal, whether from Chapel Lane, Coronation Road, The Grove, Merrions Close, Nether Hall Park and Pheasey/Park Farm.
    With regard to Ian’s comments regarding anti-social behaviour/criminal activity in Nether Hall/Great Barr Park, as i’ve stated previously, such behaviour/criminality is the responsibility of Walsall police and ultimately the courts to deal with; and if local residents feel that problems are not being dealt with adequately in this regard, then the authorities need to be pressured into making sure that all nuisance/crime in the area is more rigorously targeted and quashed.

  15. Hi Ian; thanks for confirming that the forthcoming meeting will be open to all local residents to attend.

  16. From twitter:

    Chapel lane resident did traffic survey on 15th Jan, 7-9am traffic both directions 1249 -46 illegal turns into Coronation Rd

    there is also a picture of the traffic backed up quite endlessly

    Don’t seem a good idea to add to this, especially when 1 resident of chapel lane has explained it takes her 15 minutes to get of her drive!

  17. a lot of cars i no!!! however 1249 seems to accord with the traffic stats submitted in the application. I think the 7 day average for 7-9 is 1190. have u read the report it seems that they have done 4 different 1 week surveys at different locations including chapel lane, a34 junction and a34.

    most of the 12 vehicles in picture seem to be vans.perhaps tradesman not sure how u would ever stop that?

    I think BAG should do a proper 7 day 24 hour survey that’s the real way to get proper stats and properly collaborate whether the figures submitted are accurate.

    I would be prepared to help perhaps we should try and find volunteers?

  18. “Enabling development is considered to be akin to public money and as such cannot be raised and used without public involvement and approval”

    Those are the words of Bob Winkle – Beacon Action Group.

    Appears a reasonable enough statement and rings true in my ears. Thus to me meaning this proposed development should be tossed out forthwith!

    Those who have as yet not seen Bobs letter to the observer can find it here in full:

    http://beaconactiongroup.wordpress.com/2014/01/22/bob-winkle-chair-of-beacon-action-group-writes-letter-to-editor-of-great-barr-obsever/

  19. A very well worded post on there Ian, but seemingly to me, with an underlying message of support thus showing the Pheasey labour party are, as you are in fact, more in favour than against.

    But if you take a couple of the lines from the melee you get the following which appear to me where English Heritage are certainly not showing their support and the lines are as follows:

    “The enabling development of 57 homes was the maximum they would agree to close by and on registered parkland”

    So the owners are attempting to build the very maximum that EH would accept!

    The second line being:

    No final decision has been made by English Heritage over the application until they have fully consulted the paperwork

    So EH are not happy as yet and are still looking in to it.

    This gives us BAG seemingly against, judging by Bob Winkles letter to the Observer, much like UKIP,

    EH on the other hand are on the fence along with the local labour party and seemingly the conservatives by there words or lack of them in the main.

    Considering that the local labour party are on the fence i find it weird that Tom Watson and Valerie Vaz appear to be singing from the same hymn sheet as UKIP.

    Make from that what you will.

    • As to the last point, that is their shout, there is no political whip on this and the beauty of being neutral is no one is tied to a position whether for or against.

      As to the main point, no idea how you can say that is biased, it is exactly what they said and a fair summary as passed over to residents with no complaints. EH just confirmed what Lapworths said was true, what had happened and what they will do.

      Just what the residents asked for.

  20. On your first point being my last:

    Whip or no whip, it just shows how disjointed, or is it how out of touch, your party really is.

    and on your last point being my main point:

    But Ian, one man can only have one writing style and your pro development writing style shone out above your neutral written word in your neutral written article. If you are as important in your local party as you are vocal which i presume you are then how can your local party be neutral? Or are your local party representatives not representing the views of their staunch supporters and committees? Where would that lead to if they gained power i wonder?

  21. Hi Paul; ‘Where would that lead to’? – Well taking a wild shot in the dark, how about Euro-Labour helping out their wealthy property developer pals to completely cover our local Green Belt with thousands of homes. One bunch of greedy, grasping, rich, spoilt Tories helping out another bunch of greedy, grasping, rich, spoilt Tories. Remind me, which party were responsible for dumping 450 homes in Great Barr Park?

  22. Party responsible for the 450 was Labour Govt despite Labour locally as well as everyone else opposing it and Steve please be mindful of the language you are using if you are referring to me I am certainly not greedy, never been grasping, bought up in a single parent family not spoilt and with three young kids not rich!!!

    • I do wish people would leave Bovis out of this. I know it suits agenda’s but bovis has nothing to do with this planning application at all.

      • Maybe not directly Ian, but whilst the on running saga with Bovis and that development continues, the problems and the problems that have not yet properly materialised due to it, how can it be sensible to add yet another contentious development right next door to it?

        Or is it a self centred way of thinking like:

        ah well if the new development gets the green light it may solve some of the problems we have Park Farm end and if it does not then at least we tried and tough on the residents the other end.

        ???

      • Indeed that may well be the case and I can make the case that the new development will be better for the people of Park Farm and Netherhall.

        Bovis have got away with murder over Netherhall. So many things are wrong there that it is no surprise they it is difficult to sell houses on there. Have a quiet word with Paul Carr and Andrews to see how difficult they say it is.

        some of these issues are out of control by the local council some are not and those that are not should be tackled.

  23. I don’t disagree but the fact remains Prescott said yes despite a united no from this community regardless of party or non, including a very well respected MP. This will be an issue because it was through appeal that Bovis got a yes with no local input into the application – this could go the same way if there is a default no, as there was with Bovis

    • From my understanding now and certainly from Lapworth’s doc the amount of consultation with the planning officer for Walsall is far different from Bovis. Besides for this development I see no way the owners will waste time with an appeal.

      Also rules have changed since then and If you look at the planning regs now then even though a presumed yes was removed the regs are clear.

      Besides this is totally different because of the Hall rebuild and what EH and others have said. Only BAG as a group I believe are against this.

  24. Hi Adrian, Oh yes, Euro-Labour, that was the mob responsible. With regard to greedy, grasping, rich, spoilt Tories, i was referring to ‘Dead’ Milliband and all of his spoilt, wealthy toff, never had a real job pals in his Euro-Labour Tory Party. How many expensive homes again is it that Tory B’Liar and Cherie own now, 9, 10, more?????
    Yes Ian; Not really surprised that you don’t want anyone to mention the Bovis Homes application.

    • you carry on wasting your breath with rants and nonsense and I will stick to the facts of what the planning committee will do.

      They will only look at the application on the table and previous ones are irrelevant, especially as Bovis could not care less about that land.

  25. Hi Ian, nope, not nonsense nor a waste of breath old chap. As for facts, well ‘Dead’ Milliband has never had a proper job; Fact. Euro-Labour were responsible for 450 homes being dumped in Great Barr Park; Fact; And suspected blood soaked war criminal Tory B.Liar and his grasping wife do own at least 9 very expensive properties, not to mention having a personal fortune of at least 60 million pounds; Fact. What great socialists (not). Fact.

  26. Ian Bovis had quite a few discussions with Walsall planning dept at the time – not with elected politicians of any flavour. An appeal is far from a waste of time from my experience, unfortunately, as the planning inspector has, on our patch, had little or no regard for local opinion (I have a number of examples if you need them but with your vast local knowledge I am sure you are aware)

    In comparison to other proposals for Great Barr Hall there has been a huge difference this time in terms of consultation as I have previously said in fact I have been responsible for ensuring that engagement including English Heritage and local specialists.

    In terms of the big euro debate, that has such a massive part to play in a planning application of this sort – not, I would vote to come out as I see at first hand more than most the interference at a local level that the EEC was never designed to do. Considering us 3 political bods having this debate and boring others have never had a chance to vote on the issue it is the least we should have – and that the time to debate Europe

    I would like from this point to keep the debate to planning issues of today and debate the pros and cons of this proposal affecting this community.

    If another thread needs starting to debate Europe so be it – I will join in

  27. The link is into this wks letter to the Observer from Peter Allen.
    I did request BAG to put this link on their website in the interest of fairness, however my post was deleted. I think BAG should post all comments and letters so we can have an open and fair debate, and not keep it one sided as i am sure there are local residents in and around chapel lane who feel this is a worth while development.
    I can see that there is quite a lot from BAG in regards to how to object, but not how to be for the development. If you speak to NHP residents they are actually for the development of the hall, and are not fussed about the number of houses being proposed.
    There have also obviously been some errors published to certain officials, which has made them step in…ie about there will be no access to public, but clearly from the letter by Peter Allen it states that BAG wanted restricted access, which then tells me that BAG HAVE been consulted throughout the planning process. So it seems somewhat rich, that BAG are now complaining about access when they themselves asked for it to be restricted.

    Ian could you please post this on your website so a fair reflection of the debate is portrayed.

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