Archives for posts with tag: Solihull

Time-pressed residents of Birmingham, Solihull, Cannock, Dudley, Coventry, Lichfield, Sandwell, South Staffs, Tamworth, Walsall and Wolverhampton who regularly scan their section of the Brummie site, appreciate the free service it gives, whatever their interests. Main news items covered, include a range of locally run websites, music and the arts, sport and business.

Links to them give those sites a wider readership than would otherwise have been possible. Until the final few months Mark was a helpful and courteous correspondent and this later lack of response was ascribed to pressure of other work, which involved travelling abroad. We now can see that there may have been health concerns claiming priority.

Three of many interests served: Our Birmingham, West Midlands Producers and Localise West Midlands thank him and hope that a way will be found to maintain the Brummie.






empty houses headerwaitrose derelictionIn January the focus was on a neglected corner of Hall Green on the Stratford Road, an eyesore for over ten years. Six years ago, the late lamented Stirrer noted official figures: 675,000 empty homes in England, of which 288,000 had been empty for more than six months (DCLG, 2007).

Birmingham had over 11,000 privately owned empty homes – the largest number of empty properties in the country. Despite the demand for affordable housing, 1,100 of these homes had been empty for over five years.

A year ago the figure was reduced to 9,000 empty Birmingham properties

empty houseThe city council’s empty property team was set up in 2006 to bring derelict homes back into use and since then, the Mail reports, the council has successfully taken out 160 CPOs, forcibly seized 38 houses and 1835 owners have co-operated.

MEP Keith Taylor has highlighted the low number of empty dwellings being brought back into use via Empty Dwelling Management Orders:

“It’s totally scandalous to have thousands of homeless people sleeping rough when there are nearly a million empty houses at the same time. Bringing empty properties back into use is a quick win. Today’s shocking figures highlight government failures to get to grips with the issue of empty homes, and clearly illustrates that the EDMOs system is failing.”

Brought back into use

  • 2013: 18 houses
  • 2014: 17 properties
  • overall total since 2007: 108

Keith Taylor’s report will be launched in Oxford on 19th March with guest speakers Danny Dorling (Professor of Geography at Oxford University & author of ‘All that is Solid: The Great Housing Disaster’) & Anna Minton (Author of Ground Control).

empty houses flyer

We hope that his Birmingham and Solihull colleagues will take up this cause.

black cabs strike

As more than a thousand black-cab taxi drivers blocked traffic in central London on Wednesday in the latest of a series of protests across the continent against Uber, Cyril Bouquet, Professor of Business Strategy at IMD, said London’s black-cab drivers are campaigning to “prevent reform of an outdated, often monopolistic and over-regulated system”.

Is preferential treatment for expensive Birmingham and Solihull black cabs discriminating against affordable private hire cars?

A local private hire driver alleges that though he pays far more for the privilege of operating than a black cab driver his opportunities are restricted.

He told the writer that he pays £350 for his licence, MOT and badge, compared with the black cab charge of £260-270.

  • He cannot pick up fares on the street like the black cabs.
  • He cannot used lanes designated ‘bus and taxi’.
  • He may not wait at the airport, the railway station and the coach station.

The private hire driver charges for the distance travelled, whereas the black cab starts with £3 on the clock before it has travelled a metre.

As policy-makers on expense accounts accede to the demands of the powerful Birmingham Hackney Drivers Union and the lobbying of the Birmingham and Solihull Taxi Association, the ordinary person appreciates the more affordable private hire service and cannot see why it should be treated unfairly.

PoW cottage

On the border of Solihull and Birmingham (Highters Heath), empty for many years, boarded up and visibly deteriorating, this attractive building – once the home of the Prince of Wales landlord – is being given a new lease of life.

Pre-empting several who will take issue with the plastic used, another reader writes:

What is the value of the house? Is the more expensive “in keeping” window style consistent with the budget of the family who could afford the house? If not then all we have done is price it out of reach of the potential purchaser. Clearly double glazing – even triple – is needed for thermal insulation and to address the noise of passing traffic. Homes are first and foremost for living in. I would agree that a good design improves the quality of life, but there are limits.

He adds: “It is not irreversible – an owner could change this . . .”

mitchells butler logoThe builder working for M&B did not know whether the cottage will be rented or sold. The low wall should be topped by strong safety railings, because the house is very near the road and an older resident recalls that it has twice been hit by a car. It has been suggested – by email – that metal posts filled with concrete could be put behind the wall – quite unobtrusive, but would protect the house.

Reference to this cottage was first made on a Solihull website and interesting memories of the old building, and of the former Prince of Wales public house which once stood next to it, have been coming in and will be collated.

georgian terrace highgate

With the need for more housing in the news, instead of looking at ‘developing’ green spaces in Sutton Coldfield, Harborne and on Solihull’s floodplains, why not renovate buildings such as this long-neglected Georgian terrace sadly lining Highgate’s Moseley  Road?

georgian terrace edgbaston With due attention the Highgate Terrace could look as good as the Edgbaston terrace (right) and even better if its windows were not disfigured by arranged net curtains.

Birmingham historian Carl Chinn, writing about the nearby Highgate park, reminds us of Joseph Chamberlain’s words that it is the duty of the Town Council as representing and caring for all the community, to provide for ‘the people’ beautiful buildings and pleasant gardens which ‘the rich were able to provide for themselves’. 

The houses to be built in the ‘leafy’ areas mentioned earlier will not be offered to those on housing registers – those deemed to be in most need. Priority should be given to building new houses in the pockets of dereliction which may be seen in various areas of the city.

Bear in mind an architect’s commendation of the new housing designed by BM3 Architecture, one of the seven architects on the panel of the Birmingham Municipal Housing Trust, created in 2009 by the city council:

“Houses that look like houses . . . attractive, but not extraordinary”

 wheeler st 2 housing newtown

“Roof slopes are steep, some with photo-voltaic solar panels. They make big house-gables – some eccentrically mono-pitched, some more conventionally dual-pitched. Windows are generously sized, and placed to make interesting domestic compositions”.

“Social housing should be more than just a safety net”: Green Party councillor Chris Williams (Chelmsley Wood)


Birmingham Vegetarians and Vegans will host a talk on ‘Extreme composting: Getting extra fertility in a garden with humanure’ at their monthly meeting on February 26th.

HumanureAs Joseph Jenkins points out in his best-selling book, The Humanure Handbook, you can create a useful product – compost – out of the waste, which would previously have been passed on to someone else to deal with. Martin Doyle will lead a session on ‘one of the Western world’s phobias’ – using human waste as garden manure – at the Birmingham Vegetarian and Vegans group’s monthly meeting.

The talk, called ‘Extreme Composting: Getting extra fertility in a garden with humanure’, will show how using a composting toilet can produce nutrient-rich garden fertiliser without the hard work of mulching, composting and growing green manure plants. The process is also ideal for vegan gardeners who refuse animal manures, and for those growing their crops organically.

little house logo

Martin Doyle, from Solihull-based The Little House Company, comments: “Composting and using human waste (faeces) is an ancient practice but now with a scientific understanding of composting and the resources required to treat human waste, we can close the loop on this natural fertility cycle and improve our soil, reduce our water use and reduce our energy use too!

“Modern composting toilets can be small, hygienic and definitely don’t smell – the only problem is Western attitudes to dealing with bodily waste. After a year, a system can produce a viable compost and soil conditioner that can be used around trees and shrubs. Compost toilets can also be fitted where regular WCs can’t as they don’t need mains water or waste connections.”

Doyle’s business specialises in everything needed to install your own compost toilet in order to save valuable drinking water and waste removal resources. Recent projects have even included an installation on a narrow boat.

‘Extreme Composting: Getting extra fertility in a garden with humanure’ will take place at Veged Out café in Fletchers Walk, Birmingham B3 3HJ, at 7.30pm on Tuesday February 26th. Entry is £2.00.