Richmond Primary Care Centre

"As a local resident of Stechford who has lived in the area for over 25 years, it is pleasing to see a building of such high quality and design which has been developed using a partnership approach with the local community. The art work that was commissioned and involved many young people across the area has given a stamp of individuality to the building and given the local young residents a sense of ownership"

Janet Down, local resident

BaS LIFT inherited this project when a site and outline planning permission had already been secured by NHS Birmingham East and North. Under this proposal, existing GP premises and NHS offices would have been demolished to make way for the new centre and the occupants temporarily relocated until they could move into the new building.

However, when BaS LIFT conducted an appraisal of the scheme, it became apparent that an alternative site option might work more effectively. By working closely with the PCT during the complex process of appraising suitable sites, the team realised there were access problems with the original location and there would also be expense and disruption caused by relocating staff during construction. The development experts were able to show there was a better and more sustainable site which could overcome these drawbacks.

At the time, the alternative location was occupied by ‘The Richmond’ - a disused public house, once boasting its own bowling green - which held a prominant corner position at the intersection of Richmond Road and Bordesley Green East. Just under a mile from Heartlands Hospital and with excellent transport links, the one acre site met patient access needs and also had space to accommodate staff and patient car parking.

The new facility has transformed local healthcare provision, while the increased patient list size has enabled the practice to offer a wider range of services, including physiotherapy, podiatry and dental services, as well as providing a base for district nursing and health visiting teams.

Healthy approach to community art

As with all developments delivered through BaS LIFT, establishing strong ties with the surrounding community is considered essential to engage local people and encourage the community to take ownership of the finished building. In this case experimental artist Johnny O’Hanlon and freelance photographer Dan Burwood worked with three local groups: the Stechford Youth Network, Bierton Road Youth Centre and the Birmingham Disability Resource Centre to create bespoke artwork for the new centre.

There were more than 40 participants ranging in age from 8 to 80. First the groups used digital still cameras and a paper negative box camera to capture images of activities and poses that reflected their interests. Then, in an arts workshop, the groups were encouraged to apply their creative flair to transform the collected images into outlines and silhouettes. Lastly, the material was formed into a master collage which was used to print a vibrantly coloured 18 metre long mural in glazing vinyl. This was applied to the glazed facade of the new building, its installation being timed so the artwork was revealed to the public when the window hoardings were removed. Reactions have been positive -parents bringing their children to the centre tell you that it’s great for playing ‘I-spy’! It really helps to strengthen the community feel.