MORE THAN 30 people turned out to a public meeting on the future of the Bilberry Centre on Rose Hill next to Lickey Hills Country Park.
The centre was donated to the people of Birmingham by Mr and Mrs Barrow Cadbury in 1904 and was initially used as the Lickey Tea Rooms.
It became tea and dance rooms until the early 1960s, then in 1970 The Birmingham Federation of Clubs for Young People took out a lease.
The building was used successfully to provide residential activities for children and young people until the ‘Fed’ – as it was known – went into administration in 2019 and Birmingham City Council took ownership.
The authority – now the only trustee – is seeking greater power from the Charity Commission to enable the building to be leased out or sold off.
The council has launched a consultation on its future and residents and community groups are being urged to have their say on what they would like to see it used for.
In the past three years the building has fallen victim to vandalism and graffiti – the latter has now been removed.
At the meeting, because of the state of disrepair, it was mooted it could cost £2million to bring it back into use.
Several speakers made suggestions for the building, including a place to celebrate and champion local heritage or as an activity centre.
Concerns were expressed about the charity status being relinquished and the building losing its protection and calls were made for it to be listed.
It was also stated the Bournville Village Trust (BVT) had been contacted and it was hoped a meeting could be organised with the organisation.
Cofton Hackett Parish Council Chairman Roger Westbury and Richard Deeming, both a parish councillor and the Bromsgrove District Councillor for Cofton chaired the meeting.
Both expressed their desire – along with many of those gathered, including representatives from the Lickey Hills Society and Lickey Hills History Society, to having it restored to its former glory for the good of the community.
Coun Deeming said: “The site is in a great location and it’s a shame it is currently going to waste.”
As part of its consultation, Birmingham City Council wants people to get in touch with their ideas.
They would then have to be given the go ahead by the Charity Commission and Bromsgrove District Council’s planning officers or committee.
People and groups can have their say at birminghambeheard.org.uk/economy/bilberry-centre-consultation/ before the April 13 deadline.
Ideas will also be discussed at Cofton Hackett Parish Council’s meeting at 7.30pm on Monday, March 21, at Cofton Village Hall, Groveley Lane which everyone is welcome to.