Countdown to Kings Heath Square opening

Completion of Kings Heath's new square is drawing closer after the Community centre opens at redeveloped Kings Heath church.

The £1.5 million centre is the second phase of a redevelopment that saw the £2 million medical centre open in April 2008 and will see the third and final phase, the new public square, open in September 2011. The community centre has a multipurpose hall, an elderly day centre, meeting rooms for hire and will include a community cafe.

It will house the parenting projects, youth services, lunch clubs, dance and sports classes and mentoring sessions currently held inside the church itself.

Mary Miles, chair of the All Saints Centre development group, said: “It’s very exciting because a lot of hard work from volunteers has gone into this.

“We aim to be at the heart of Kings Heath providing a true community centre for all people.” The new centre, which took two-and-a-half years to build, was officially unveiled by Reverend David Warbrick, vicar of All Saints Church, and architect Richard Cotteril.

The £500,000 village square, the final part of the redevelopment will open in September.

Photos showing progress on the new square from the 5th May to 4th June are shown below.

5th May

11th May

13th May

24th May

4th June.

Meanwhile Kings Heath's gardening future is under threat; Pruned and transplanted - future not looking rosy for Kings Heath garden show. As Birmingham City Council looks to save money it is looking at the Kings Heath Gardeners Weekend as value for money. Compared to the £20,000 each St Patrick's Day Parade, St George's Day, Vaisakhi, Eid Mela and Birmingham Pride receive of which nearly all of them attract 80,000 visitors the £70,000 before restoration costs it gives for the garden show for 13,000 visitors is not nearly as value for money.

The Gardeners Weekend can trace it's history to the Birmingham Flower Show which began in Handsworth Park which Councillor Mullaney, responsible for Leisure and Sport at the Council, traces the earliest records of to 1947. From Handsworth Park it moved to Perry Park in the 1970s before moving in 1989 to Kings Heath Park where it was run jointly with BBC Gardeners World and called Gardeners Weekend.

The weekend has however been challenged by Gardeners World Live at the NEC which saw the BBC end their involvement with the event in 2001 and has resulted in attendance figures plummeting while the council subsidy increasing.

The attendance and subsidy for the Gardeners Weekend event is as follows:
2006: Attendence - 19,345; subsidy - £40,000
2007: Attendence - 19,996; subsidy - £50,000
2008: Attendence - 15,740; subsidy - £50,000
2009: Attendence - 15,155; subsidy - £50,000
2010: Attendence - 12,364; subsidy - £72,316

In the light of this it makes sense to consider the Gardeners Weekend and how best to encourage more visitors and what it's role should be. In Councillor Mullaney's blog he notes the possibility of moving the flower show element of the weekend to the city centre and combining it into Artsfest which attracts 250,000 visitors,

While the gardening future looks bleak in Kings Heath the future of Moseley Road baths down the road does seem a little brighter, for now, with the news that it will reopen approximately the 15th July, It reopens after it was closed for repairs after damage was discovered to the surround of a fire exit earlier this year.

Meanwhile work is still progressing on a £5 million Heritage Lottery Fund bid for 2012 to start the first phase of restoring the baths. Perhaps what is needed however is the council to give up it's direct running of the baths to a charitable trust similar to Manchester's Victoria Baths,, able to seek charitable funding not otherwise open to them to ensure Birmingham's last surviving Edwardian Baths survive in operation rather than become a disused reminder of grander times.


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