NEWS: St Barnabas to hold public consultation over churchyard renovation – Thursday 29 September

Words & pics by Ed King

St Barnabas Church in Erdington are inviting members of the public to attend a public consultation to discuss plans to renovate the churchyard.

Held at St Barnabas on Thursday 29 September, the drop in session will be free to attend – with the Erdington High Street based church keen to hear from as many local residents as possible.

Plans to renovate the churchyard have been discussed internally at St Barnabas for several months, with ambitious ideas on how to turn the dilapidated areas into vibrant public spaces that better serve the local community.

A poster advertising the public consolation explains how St Barnabas want to create ‘a safe and beautiful place that benefits people and wildlife’.

St Barnabas’s churchyard has been known as a hot spot for street drinkers, drug taking, and anti-social behaviour, with the plans for renovation hoping an ‘improved churchyard means better links for local people to use and visit it.’

Current plans include a special memorial tree, a stone ‘labyrinth’ and ‘focal space’, art murals, and areas for the public to sit and reflect.

Reverend Emma Sykes at St Barnabas told Erdington Local: “Our church sits at the heart of the High Street and we want the churchyard to be a place of peaceful reflection as well as a safe and green space that benefits all those who use it.

“We know there are challenges ahead as it’s going to be a long and costly project to restore the currently unsafe parts and reform the whole area, but we are excited that we’re already making positive steps and there are reachable goals in sight.

“We’ve engaged with specialist consultants and with help from our support partners, ideas for the future plans include living memorials, wildlife areas, education trails for children, historical insights, improved lighting, benches and a community space which could be used for outdoor church services, activities and other events.

“All this is against the backdrop of respecting all those who are at rest in the churchyard and their families and loved ones.”

First built as a chapel of ease in 1823, St Barnabas is a Grade II listed building designed by Thomas Rickman – a self taught architect who was a major figure in the 19th century Gothic Revival movement.

Badly damaged in a suspected arson attack in 2007, which destroyed the roof and all but one of its famed stained glass windows, St Barnabas underwent major renovation work to its building in 2011-12.

The churchyard is no longer available for public burial and contains 66 graves to service men and women from both the Great War and World War II.

Reverend Emma Sykes added: “The public consultation will be an important opportunity for people to come along and tell us what they think of the plans and we can answer questions.

“We continue to be grateful to all those who have supported us so far and we want to bring on board more people from the local community as we move forward as together, we can make very positive changes.”

For more on St Barnabas visit www.stbarnabaserdington.org.uk

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