The Birmingham Conservation Trust website has a news item and three-minute interview about their options appraisal for the entire Highbury estate. An options appraisal is often a financial analysis, as was done by KPMG some years ago when BCC were thinking of selling the buildings. But in this case, the BCT are taking a broader look at what it would take to make Highbury work as a charitable resource, which necessarily means developing adequate income, but is also about making it available for the benefit of Brummies, such as through a sensitive heritage restoration, through charitable care projects like Four Seasons, or as a venue for educational and community activities.
An options appraisal is not the same as masterplanning the restoration (though it would be wonderful if BCT were to take that on as well). As Elizabeth Perkins says, it’s a bit early for planners to start thinking about particular solutions.
But it’s not too early for the rest of us, nor is it too early to get involved in activities on the ground that will influence what planners think. You may have looked at our vision document from some years ago, but if not, it’s here. And you may have heard about the volunteer-based landscape projects already happening in the former ornamental gardens, but if you haven’t, take a look at the Highbury Community Partnerships website. (The orchard and pathbuilding projects are happening on Highbury Trust land, whilst the coppicing and Henburys wall garden projects are based elsewhere in the park.)
Each of these things are indications of progress: the BCT options appraisal shows that the council are taking Highbury’s future seriously again; the volunteer work shows that people are serious and enthused about making things happen. And that’s leaving aside the recent efforts to develop a proper restoration plan with Heritage Lottery money. People are working together on developing a better future for Highbury. You included.