In 2012, Lapworth Architects was instructed by BCG Lakes Limited to prepare a enabling development scheme to secure the future of Great Barr Hall and Park. Our task was to prepare a detailed scheme and formulate a professional team.  The team included Paul Drury of the Drury McPherson Partnership, David Geddes of Colliers International and Adrian Wikeley of Land Use Consultants.

History of Great Barr Hall

By way of background Great Barr Hall was rebuilt as a country house c1777 by Joseph Scott, incorporating some minor elements of its predecessor, Netherhall, extant by the mid-17th century.2 Scott’s building was very much in the ‘Strawberry Hill Gothick’ style, with delicate detail ornamenting the symmetrical facades of a rectangular block eleven bays wide and three deep, with corner turrets. An association with John Nash has been claimed but is not documented. In the 1840s, Scott’s son Edward Dolman Scott further altered and extended the building, reinforcing its fantastical Gothic character, still in stucco over brick. By the late 1860s, he had added a completely contrasting brick and stone chapel (attributed, without documentary evidence, to Gilbert Scott) adjoining the main front. In 1911 the family sold the Hall as a hospital, which it remained until 1978. Subsequently it fell into complete dereliction, the condition in which the present owners acquired it.

The Hall was first listed in grade II* in 1971, placing it in the most important 7-8% of listed buildings in England. All that now survives is the shell of the main block with some external architectural detail; and internally, remnants of the roof and decorative plasterwork of the top-lit stair hall. The chapel remains in fragmentary form, seriously denuded by fire and theft.

Despite its damaged state, the building still had considerable heritage significance. Evidential value subsists in the remains of Netherhall, its 17th century precursor, which have some further potential to shed light on the form of documented earlier buildings. The building is historically associated with Joseph Galton (tenant 1786-97) and the Lunar Society, although this is limited since all aspects of the building and its setting changed dramatically in the 1840s – 1860s. In terms of architectural value, the potential remains to recover the considerable significance of the design of the exterior as it was altered in the mid-19th century, primarily the north, west and (plainer) south elevations, the two former being the focus of the park; as well as the internal top-lit stair hall.

Importantly, however, the Hall is the essential focus of the pleasure grounds and park, included at grade II on the English Heritage Register of parks and gardens of historic interest. The park is significant for its design interest, incorporating 18th and 19th century work by Humphry Repton, John Nash and (attributed to) Gilbert Scott, and possibly John Shenstone; its overall layout and features remain mostly intact, with strong visual links to Great Barr Hall. It is also of group value in providing the setting for Great Barr Hall, the two having evolved in parallel.

The Enabling Development Scheme

Various potential uses for the Hall were considered by Lapworth Architects.  Neither the building nor the location makes it attractive as an office; specialist use as a data centre has been suggested but ruled out on the basis of insufficient broadband capacity (and in any event the use requires a secure dark box, not a late Georgian house). Self storage within a restored shell would generate little value and not secure a long term future for the building or the landscape.

The Hall was built as a single family house, so revision to such a use might be considered as the ideal conservation option. However, the market for a house of this scale in this location is very limited; comparables suggest an end value no more than about £1.5-£2m. More practical in the location would be conversion to smaller houses/ apartments, retaining and restoring the stair hall, with a ‘mews’ development to the rear.

BCG Lakes held discussions with a number of possible end users, including the Museum of World Religions, who expressed interest in using the Hall as a museum/ convention centre. However this option was not pursued as the long term strategy and funding stream were both unclear.

Our proposals

Following our recommendations, the proposals for the internal configuration of the Hall were modified, and its development split into two phases, first bringing the hall back into repair and use (which can just be achieved by the maximum amount of enabling development that the site can reasonably support) and second, a potential future extension which could be funded as a commercial investment.

A planning and Listed Building Application was submitted to Walsall Council for restoration and alterations to Great Barr Hall Grade II* Listed Building and Grade II Registered Park including.

The scheme included the:

creation of Hotel/Wedding Conference Centre/Restaurant –
restore lawns to Great Barr Hall –
2 Gatehouse Lodges –
Maintenance Building/Store –
57 new dwellings –
enhanced open space and nature conservation –
acoustic barrier –
boat house – summer house – demolition of farm buildings –
dredging of lakes,
reinstatement of bridge over lakes and
installation of photovoltaic panels (alongside motorway). Application is accompanied by an Environmental Statement

Although this project hasn’t come to fruition, Lapworth Architects have worked on dozens of heritage and listed projects in the West Midlands. Take a look at our Conservation and Listed Projects page to see more of the work that we’ve done. 

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abid shah
abid shah
13:03 17 Sep 20
Lapworth Architects provided me with a excellent service, which was responsive, high quality, professional and dealt... with the council on my behalf. I would strongly recommend more
10:56 23 May 20
I contacted lapworth to carry out a site survey for a self build. I got great advice and a very fast turn around of my... report. We will definitely be using lapworth again for our more
nibha hegde
nibha hegde
19:51 20 Apr 20
I am extremely pleased with Lapworth architects. I just told them in my amateur way what I imagined or wanted in my... bungalow and they drew lovely accurate plans. Michael patiently took on board my multiple requests to make changes as new ideas came to me and he always incorporated them with even further development which shows his expertise. Michael provided monthly supervision service which I think is priceless and is the best part of hiring him!. He visited the site regularly, liaised with various other professionals involved like building control people, engineers, etc, did trouble shooting promptly, ensured costing is kept to minimum, and made sure the work is being carried out to the highest standards in a timely manner. The contractors and builders have also found this service very useful because of helpful professional advise and on-site discussions. I have noted from his late night/weekend emails/calls that Michael has worked very hard on my project- which was a total makeover of a rather dilapidated-closed- space building with poor lighting and access- and made it into a well lit, open spaced bright modern bungalow. He has always kept me well informed. Lastly, I have to say, because of his dedication, the project has carried on with practically no stress or worries imparted to me! He is well connected and tendered my project to a very good builder- for which `I am grateful. I sometimes hear other friends' stories of 'nightmare building projects' and I secretly thank my stars that I gave this project to Lapworth. I wish Michael and his team well. If I were lucky enough to acquire another property, I will promptly give the project to Lapworth again! :)read more
Hugh Humphreys
Hugh Humphreys
23:23 19 Feb 20
Did a very competent job with good value for money, understood my needs and produced the drawings for a complex... extension quickly. Made the small changes requested and continued to provide support on detail on request. I would use them again on further projectsread more
Kay Bedi
Kay Bedi
16:54 01 Feb 20
I used Lapworth after using two different architects who were unable to secure planning permission due to lack of... knowledge in relation to green belt policy and lack of expertise in relation to producing reports alongside planning applications. Ultimately these were the two things that were required to get out planning application approved and we were impressed with the knowledge, expertise and professionalism of everyone we had interactions with at the firm. The firm is better value for money than others we have used as they provide better quality of service at the same price. I would definitely use them again and would recommend them. The staff have a great attitude and work hard to get you the outcome you want. We finally got our application approved and if we had come to Lapworth to start with we would not have wasted two years and a considerable amount of money trying to get planning approved. Thanks to all at Lapworth, particularly Tristan and Tumi for working so hard and providing a great customer service and quality work also thank you to Mike for the great service he has provided. Kayread more
Colin Andrews
Colin Andrews
16:25 15 Jan 20
I can honestly say I don't give reviews, but on this occasion I felt I must. Michael Singh of Lapworth Architects spoke... on behalf of my Company's planning application at Walsall Planning committee for an Adventure Golf Course situated in the Green Belt. The application was submitted in February 2018 and at last came before committee with over 40 objections from residents. Michael Singh spoke on my behalf and obviously new his stuff. He showed he cared about this application. His passion caused others to be convinced not just because of his force of reasoning, but also because he was visibly enjoying the beliefs he wanted the committee to accept. Michael Singh won over the committee members through his professional manner. Accurate, competent, credible, intelligent, knowledgeable, likeable, and believable. The committee voted in favour and gave planning approval. I highly recommend Lapworth Architect's. I definitely will use them again. Thank you so much Michael you were just BRILLIANT Regards Colin Andrews Directorread more
Rajashankar rao
Rajashankar rao
09:53 18 Feb 19
We ( me and my wife) would definitely recommend Lapworth architects without any hesitation.They have been professional... and very prompt in answering our issues. They have been efficient in getting the plans we desired and did the whole application from scratch without any delays. We personally had Manraj to look into our case and absolutely none issues. He has been very efficient in chasing the application process along with updates and infact, got the application approved without any more
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